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Math says Earth safe from asteroid

Aug. 29, 2012 at 7:33 PM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Russian scientists say recalculation of the path of a large asteroid named Apophis indicates a significantly low likelihood of a hazardous encounter with Earth.

Researchers at the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences have re-run the numbers on the asteroid, thought to be the size of two football fields, institute research fellow Viktor Shor said Wednesday.

The orbit of Apophis, discovered in 2004, is slightly offset to that of Earth's, and astronomers have determined the asteroid will make a very close flyby in 2029, RIA Novosti reported.

Some had said there was even a risk of a collision with Earth.

However, the initial calculation for the asteroid's orbit was made using only two sets of observations.

Russian scientists have recalculated its path by incorporating the so-called Yarkovsky effect, a thrust created by sunlight absorbed and re-radiated as heat by the asteroid.

"Scientists give various orbital determinations for Apophis. But earlier calculations for the orbit did not include the Yarkovsky effect," Shor said at the International Aerospace Congress in Moscow.

"This effect could strongly deflect the path of the asteroid," he said.

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