Scientists Spar Over Asteroid Apocalypse in 2036
1-in-250,000 chance that Apophis will hit Earth
By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2011 6:46 PM CST
An image provided by the German Aerospace Center DLR on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008 shows a two photos combo of the asteroid Steins, on Friday, Sept. 5, 2008.   (AP Photo/ESA)

(Newser) – If that whole end-of-the-world thing doesn't work out next year, maybe the jig is up in 2036: Scientists are now saying that's the year an asteroid previously thought harmless (after having been deemed catastrophic before that) might just plow into the Earth. A few Russian scientists are warning that Apophis, which is expected to come within five Earth radii of our planet, will hit a gravitational "keyhole" that will pull it onto a collision course, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Apophis—which the Russian scientists estimate will hit our planet on April 13, 2036—has a diameter of two football fields, so a collision could be catastrophic. But NASA says the chance of an impact is slight. "Technically, they’re correct, there is a chance in 2036 that Apophis will hit Earth," said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office. But that chance is just one in 250,000, he says.

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Showing 3 of 40 comments
bewilderbeast
Feb 11, 2011 8:11 AM CST
I'm going to leave this one to my kids to sort out. They'll be adults, so its on THEIR watch! I'll just kvetch n criticise.
Edward
Feb 10, 2011 11:05 AM CST
Even if it hits the Earth, it will not create an extinction event. It could make a nasty tsunami, or if it landed in a populated area it could kill tens of millions of people. A disaster? Certainly. End of the world, it is not. The asteroid is even too small to create an impact winter.
GeminiMishy
Feb 9, 2011 1:46 PM CST
2036: The Day The Asteroid Hit I claim movie rights!