Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos is considering to send a spacecraft to bump a large asteroid from a possible collision course with Earth. According to scientists estimates, the flight trajectory of the massive asteroid, called Apophis and named in honor of the Ancient Egyptian God of Chaos, is gradually approaching our planet and the impact may happen in 2036. As of October 7, 2009, the impact probability in 2036, is calculated as 1 in 250,000.
Worrisome to scientists is the exceptionally close flyby of Earth by Apophis on 2029. So close in fact, the space rock will be naked-eye visible as it darts by. The Apophis asteroid is approximately the size of two-and-a-half football fields.
NASA says the approach to Earth will happen on Friday, April 13, 2029, when the space rock will come no closer than 18,300 miles above Earth’s surface. NASA specialists believe that a collision is extremely unlikely. Having said that, the potential of Apophis smacking into the Earth cannot be discounted.
Russia’s space agency chief Anatoly Perminov said in an interview with the Voice of Russia Radio Station that Russia’s Federal Space Agency would hold a meeting soon to assess a mission to the space rock. He said his organization might eventually invite NASA, the European Space Agency, and others to participate.
Guardian: “People’s lives are at stake”, Perminov said. “We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people.”
“Calculations show that it’s possible to create a special-purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the collision. The threat of collision can be averted,” he said.
NASA has estimated that if Apophis hit the Earth, it would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima.