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The asteroid 2004 MN4 or Apophis 99942 will fly past Earth on the night of 13th September, 2019. The asteroid has been classified as a Near-Earth Object by NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). This is the same asteroid that Neil DeGrasse Tyson had talked about a few weeks ago that on impact, would’ve caused a tsunami. It also qualifies in the Potentially Hazardous category as it is bigger than 460 feet. The asteroids that are big enough to cause destruction if they were to hit anything are considered ‘Potentially Hazardous’. The asteroid currently is on an evasive path and being tracked by the CNEOS.
The Apophis 99942 was first detected on 15th May 2004 and it takes 3946 days (10.8 years) to complete an orbit around the Sun. It has a diameter of 370m and has been touted with the name, Apophis – The Egyptian God of Destruction – because of the probable destruction it will cause if it were to hit Earth. The asteroid is expected to return in Earth’s vicinity on 13th April 2029, 13th April 2036 and 12th April 2068. The asteroid has been classified as an Aten asteroid by NASA as it is a Near-Earth Asteroid that mostly resides within Earth’s orbit around the Sun. But, during it’s 2029 fly-by, it will be classified as an Apollo asteroid due to its passage being under 40000 km from Earth.
This was not the first asteroid to zoom past Earth and certainly, will not be the last. Countless asteroids are ‘gravitated’ to zoom past us and they even return to Earth’s vicinity as well, and also, the asteroids continue along the perpetual journey around the Sun. It is not certain that any of these asteroids will hit Earth and even if they are on a collision course, we just might be able to protect ourselves thanks to the planetary defense undertaking like DART by NASA and ESA.
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