D THOLEN, R TUCKER, F BERNARDI / UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY D THOLEN, R TUCKER, F BERNARDI / UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Near-Earth asteroid Apophis (circled) on the day it was discovered, 19th June 2004. Initial calculations showed that there was a chance that it would strike Earth at its close approach on 13th April 2029. Subsequent studies have shown that it will miss Earth, but only by around 36,000 kilometres, the same distance at which geostationary satellites orbit Earth. This approach may deflect it enough for it to collide with Earth on its 2036 approach. Apophis is 250 metres wide, too small for an impact to wipe out life on Earth, but it would devastate a wide area, releasing 65,000 times as much energy as the Hiroshima atom bomb. Imaged by the 2.3-metre Bok Telescope, Kitt Peak, USA.
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