The Apophis Asteroid, a 1,300-foot-wide minor planet, could hit the earth
in 2032, according to the Ukrainian astronomers who spotted it.
NASA subsequently dismissed the prediction earlier this week, claiming the Apophis Asteroid, also known as the 2013 TV135, had a one in 48,000 chance of actually making contact with the earth, ABC News reported
"We've had nine days to study this, and I would say it has a one in 48,000 chance of hitting Earth, and as we gather more data on it, we believe it will eventually go down to zero," NASA's Dr. Paul Abell told ABC News.
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"To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent," Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."
The massive space rock was first observed by stargazers at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in southern Ukraine, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported
Despite the odds against it, if the "potentially hazardous" Apophis Asteroid should collide with the earth in 19 years it would result in an explosion 50 times greater than the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated, or equivalent to 2,500 megatons of TNT, RIA Novosti reported.
Though the Apophis Asteroid appears not to be headed toward the Blue Planet this time around, Stanford University's Scott Hubbard argues that we are not taking the asteroid threat serious enough.
"If a very large asteroid hit, I am talking about something that is miles across, it would probably create the same kind of disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs," Hubbard told ABC News. "We are not talking about ending Earth, we are not talking about ending everything, all life on Earth, but I am pretty sure it would wipe out civilization, certainly civilization as we know it."
Depending on the space rock's direction, finding the massive planet-ending asteroids could potentially be a problem, according to NASA'S Abel.
"The issue becomes the ones that come from the direction of the sun -- we can't see those in the daylight," Abell said. "And the smaller and darker they are, the harder they are to see."
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NASA presently employs its Near Earth Observation Program and Asteroid Initiative to find such space rocks and determine whether or not they could potentially hit. If an asteroid is discovered at a far enough distance away, astronomers say that a small device can be launched into the space rock to dislodge it from its current course and prevent it from being on a collision course with the earth.
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