Astronomers have been keeping an eye on Apophis since its discovery in 2004, after initial estimations based on a more preliminary orbit suggested it would come uncomfortably close to our planet in 2029. Apophis’ large size added to this concern, as it stretches 1,100 feet (340 meters) across — about 10 times larger than the object that created Meteor Crater in Arizona.
After refining the initial observations, astronomers found that there was no real risk of impact in 2029. Now, after Apophis safely passed by Earth earlier this month, there’s more good news: the asteroid won’t hit Earth in 2068 either. The space rock has also been removed from a risk list known as the Sentry Impact Risk Table, which is maintained by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Sentry Impact Risk Table is a set of asteroids that show asteroids grazing so close to Earth that a future impact can’t be ruled out. This “risk list” tracks asteroids that are predicted to get close enough to Earth to where there is the possibility of impact, although happily, there are no imminent threats known to our planet..
“When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids,” Davide Farnocchia, who analyzes asteroid orbits at CNEOS, said in a statement.