We’ve heard it before in cinematic trailers over the years – a giant asteroid hurtles toward earth at amazing speeds, threatening to wipe out our entire planet and life as we know it. We’ve seen it in the movies ‘Armageddon,’ ‘Deep Impact,’ and witnessed the massive damage of disasters in ‘2012.’
The problem is this may be for real. According to Russian scientists the date for Armageddon has been set, and it’s not going to happen in 2012 as the Mayans believed.
In 2004, NASA scientists announced that there was a chance that Apophis, an asteroid larger than two football fields, could smash into Earth in 2029. A few additional observations and some number-crunching later, astronomers realized that it’s more likely it will collide with Earth on April 13, 2036. Obviously the conflicting information is enough to draw some skepticism, but it’s enough to provoke the question: How scared should we be?
“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. However, that chance is just 1-in-250,000, Yeomans said.
NASA quickly discounted Russia’s fears, however. “The situation is that in 2029, April 13, [Apophis] flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,” Yeomans told Life’s Little Mysteries, Space.com’s sister site.
“No one should worry. Between Mars and Jupiter, we have an asteroid belt. There’s all the asteroids going near the sun, and these objects are coming near the earth all the time,” Tim Hill, space manager at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, told MyFoxTampaBay.
“On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Yeomans said.
With Hollywood portrayals of the ‘end of days,’ it’s hard to wonder if it’ll really happen the way the movies have portrayed it. History has shown, however, that trying to predict the end of the world was has always been very popular over the course of time. None of us know when it’ll occur, so anything at this point is pure speculation regardless of how scientific the data may seem.