MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. Passage of the Apophis asteroid near Earth in August 2020 is not dangerous for humankind. The passage of the asteroid in 2029 won’t be threatening either, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences astrophysicist Yuri Balega told TASS on Tuesday.
"Apophis will fly past Earth in August of this year and by all estimates it will be completely harmless for the planet. In April 2029 the asteroid will fly so close to Earth that it could be observed with the naked eye. And that passage won’t be dangerous for humankind either," the scientist said.
At the same time he noted that if in 2029 the asteroid is trapped by the Earth’s gravitational field, its chances of collision with the planet in 2036 increase.
"Depending on how it passes near Earth in 2029, whether it will get caught by the gravitational trap of our planet, the chances of colliding with Earth will change as well. But even in this case the chances that it falls on the planet’s surface are negligible - approximately 1 out of 100,000," he said.
The scientist noted that in case of collision a crater of 3-5 kilometers in diameter would appear on the planet’s surface and a layer of dust would reach the upper layers of atmosphere blocking the sunlight for a long time.
Preventing a collision
Humankind today does not possess the abilities to prevent a collision with a celestial body, there are only plans now on how to achieve this in future, the scientist said.
"Right now humankind doesn’t have the means to prevent collisions with space objects. There are many different proposals on how to do it in order to change the trajectory, say, of the asteroid - from the solar sail to the directed explosion - but this requires the effort of the entire humankind," the expert noted.