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Asteroid Apophis the Size of Three Football Fields to Zoom Past Earth in 2029. Why it's Significant

Image for representative purpose only.

Image for representative purpose only.

As per NASA, Apophis' next close flyby is predicted to be on April 13, 2029. Notably, it will be the closest any asteroid, that massive, will come to Earth's proximity that scientists have known about in advance.

On Friday, an asteroid as large as the Eiffel Tower named Apophis flew past our planet Earth. Apophis is 1,120-foot or 340-meters wide, which is roughly about the size of three-and-a-half football fields. At 8:15 p.m. ET on Friday, the asteroid came within 10.4 million miles of Earth's surface. This distance is about 44 times the distance between Earth and the moon. However, it is the next time when the asteroid will fly by Earth that is concerning. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Apophis' the next “close" flyby is predicted to be on April 13, 2029. It will bring the asteroid within 19,000 miles of Earth that is in between Earth and the moon. It will be the closest any asteroid, that massive, will come to Earth's proximity that scientists have known about in advance, according to NASA.

Flying past at such a close distance, scientists predict that the asteroid will be within the distance of some of the spacecraft that orbit earth. NASA says that although smaller asteroids, in the range of 16 to 33 feet or five to ten meters, in size have been observed passing by at similar distances, nothing as humongous as Apophis has flown past at this distance.

NASA predicts that during its 2029 flyby, Apophis will first be visible to the naked eye in the night sky over the southern hemisphere and will appear as a speck of light moving from east to west over Australia. The asteroid, Apophis will then cross above the Indian Ocean, and continue its journey towards the west, as it will cross the equator over Africa. The American agency says that Apophis will be at its closest to Earth just before 6 p.m. EDT on April 13, 2029, Apophis will be over the Atlantic Ocean. The speed of Apophis would be quite fast and it will cross the Atlantic in just an hour.

Radar scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Marina Brozović, who works on radar observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs), says that the Apophis’ close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science. She further said that the event will give scientists an opportunity to observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes.

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