UK to Track Asteroid Threat

The 300m-wide (984ft) rock, known as Apophis, will fly past Earth in April 2029 at a distance that is closer than many communications satellites.

The British design calls for a small, remote-sensing spacecraft, dubbed Apex, which could rendezvous with Apophis in January 2014.

It would spend three years tracking the rock, sending data back to Earth about the object’s size, spin, composition and temperature.

From this information, orbit modelling would enable a more accurate prediction of the risk of any future collision.

Apophis caused some consternation in 2004 when initial observations suggested it might hit Earth in 2029.

Further study by ground-based telescopes indicated there was virtually no chance of this happening, and the expectation is that the object will whiz past the Earth at a close but comfortable distance of just under 36,000km (22,370 miles).

Personally I can’t wait to be around to have a look at it in 2029, only 22 years left to wait! I can’t imagine the type of Telescope I may own then!

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