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NASA will fly to an asteroid we once thought could strike Earth

NASA will fly to an asteroid we once thought could strike Earth

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An asteroid we once thought was on a collision course with Earth will now be visited by a repurposed spacecraft when the space rock passes close in 2029.

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When asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004, it appeared to be headed towards Earth with a risk of impact in 2029 that would have had potentially catastrophic results

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This 340 metre-wide boulder is much smaller than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but it is large enough to obliterate a large city.

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So it was a great relief when further observations of the orbit of Apophis allowed astronomers to calculate that on its encounter with us in 2029 it will pass by about 30,000 km

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This means that there's no risk that it will strike or cause any damage, but it is still a close call by astronomical standards.

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It will be close enough that people in Europe and parts of Africa may be able to see it with the naked eye as it flies by.

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