This asteroid will approach Earth and here's why it's good a thing

Some astronomers are excited about an asteroid with an irregular shape making a close approach to Earth in the coming years.

@JakConnorTT
Published Sat, Jan 8 2022 1:02 AM CST   |   Updated Wed, Feb 2 2022 6:51 AM CST

Astronomers observing asteroids can predict their orbits around the Sun and therefore predict when the observed asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth.

One asteroid, in particular, will be making a close approach with Earth in the future, and when it was first discovered back in 2004, astronomers briefly believed that it might pose a risk to Earth. However, in 2021 researchers ruled out any possibility for asteroid 99942 Apophis being a danger to Earth, but it will pass close to our planet, and that's a good thing.

A new study from Brazilian astronomers details an opportunity for researchers to learn more about the surface of the asteroid when it makes it closest approach. The researchers write that asteroid 99942 Apophis is estimated to be around 1115 feet wide, and after performing a simulation with the acquired data, the researchers discovered the asteroid's shape isn't circular and is irregular.

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A model of the Apophis asteroid. Image credits: Astronomical Institute of the Charles University

Additionally, the gravity from Earth and the Sun is putting pressure on the asteroid, and due to its irregular shape, some parts of the asteroid are being battered more than others. A good way to think of this is imagining strong winds hitting your face, and as the air passes over your skin, it causes a contour from the pressure.

The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth in 2029, where researchers hope to use observational instruments to learn more about its surface.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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