Russian warns asteroid’s path will be too close

By The Associated Press Modified: December 31, 2009 at 4:25 am •  Published: December 31, 2009
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MOSCOW — Russia’s space agency chief said Wednesday a spacecraft may be dispatched to knock a large asteroid off course and reduce the chances of Earth impact, even though American scientists say such a scenario is unlikely.

Anatoly Perminov told Golos Rossii radio the space agency would hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to Apophis. He said his agency might eventually invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency and others to join the project.

When the 885-foot asteroid was discovered in 2004, astronomers said its chances of smashing into Earth in its first flyby, in 2029, at 1-in-37.

Further studies have ruled out the possibility of an impact in 2029, when the asteroid is expected to come no closer than 18,300 miles from Earth’s surface, but they indicated a small possibility of a hit on subsequent encounters.

Don Yeomans, who heads NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, said better calculations of Apophis’ path in several years "will almost certainly remove any possibility of an Earth collision” in 2036.



What are the chances?
In October, NASA estimated a 1-in-250,000 chance Apophis could hit the earth in 2036.

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