Saturday, September 01, 2007
Brits and Russians Plan Spacecraft Response to Apophis
The Russian Federal Space Agency plans a system of protection of the Earth from asteroid Apophis. The UK-based space firm EADS Astrium too is planning a bid to develop a spacecraft, known as Apex or Apophis Explorer, which would reach the asteroid in January 2014.
According to the Planetary Society, more than 100 teams worldwide are developing plans for Apophis missions.
Prompted by computations by specialists, who say that asteroid Apophis is bound to fly at a 40,000-kilometer distance from the Earth in 2029, and there is a risk of it colliding with the Earth in 2036, space agencies around the world are beginning to take the threat seriously.
Apophis is a 300-metre-wide asteroid and is still millions of kilometres away. But, in 2029, its orbit will take it worryingly close to Earth – closer than many satellites. When it does, its orbit around the Sun will be affected and just a tiny shift of just a few hundred kilometres could mean Apophis returns in 2036 to slam into Earth, creating unimaginable death and destruction.