Doomsday Asteroid Officially Upgraded in Size
An asteroid that scientists said could threaten Earth’s atmosphere in 2036 is now believed to be substantially larger than previously stated. In fact, astronomers currently studying the dreaded, potential doomsday rock say asteroid 'Apophis' has officially been supersized by about 20 percent.
Apophis, which gets its name from the Greek word for an ancient, evil Egyptian god, initially had scientists concerned due to data showing that there was nearly a 3 percent chance that the asteroid would make impact with the Earth in 2036. However, the initial threat level has since been reduced, and astronomers are starting to relax, even though the latest data shows that the asteroid will still come within 22,364 miles of our planet in 2036.
That is quite a bit closer than the 9.3 million miles away it was when it passed by Earth late last year. Still, scientists say that the only way Apophis will pose a risk to Earth in 2036 is if the rock happens to pass through a small 'slingshot' once it shuttles into our orbit.
If that happens, Apophis may not cause mass extinction, but it certainly will not be good for Earth. Scientists at NASA predict that if Apophis does crash into Earth, it will produce a blast equal to over 500 megatons of dynamite, which has the same damage potential as nearly a dozen nuclear weapons.