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Monday, February 19, 2007

Should We Be Scared Now?

The next known close encounter with an asteroid will occur, somewhat ominously, on Friday the 13th of April 2029. Then, Near-Earth Object 99942--also known as Apophis (Greek for "The Demon of Darkness")--is expected to miss the planet by a mere 30,000 kilometers. The real sweating begins soon after, when astronomers must determine whether Earth's gravity has steered Apophis onto a course for impact seven years later. Current calculations place the chance of that happening at about one in 30,000.

At 250 meters wide, Apophis is five times larger than the object that hit Earth 50,000 years ago and blew out the 1200-meter-wide Meteor Crater in Arizona. It's also six times larger than the Tunguska object, which grazed Earth's atmosphere before exploding over Siberia in 1908, flattening 2100 square kilometers of forest.
-- Meeting the Asteroid Threat

The Demon of Darkness will arrive on Friday the 13th and has better odds of hitting the planet than nearly every lotto our there.


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