asteroidimpact nasa Massive asteroid skirts close to Earth tonight, could hit in 2036

We might have survived the Mayan apocalypse, but doomsayers will have plenty more to talk about, thanks to a whopping 900-foot wide asteroid that will skirt close to the Earth tonight and may crash directly into the planet in 2036.

We might have survived the Mayan apocalypse, but doomsayers will have plenty more to talk about, thanks to a whopping 900-foot wide asteroid that will skirt close to the Earth tonight and may crash directly into the planet in 2036.

 
The collossal space rock, dubbed Apophis after the evil Egyptian god, will bypass Earth tonight (midnight GMT, 7pm EST) at a distance of around nine million miles, which might sound like it is very far away, but given the size of the thing and the gravitation pull of the planet, this is reasonably close.
 
We should be safe for now, but in 2029 it will come even closer, cruising just 30,000 kilometres away from the Earth's surface, potentially endangering communication satellites that are orbiting the planet at a similar distance.
 
asteroidimpact nasa Massive asteroid skirts close to Earth tonight, could hit in 2036
Artist's impression of an asteroid impact, courtesy of NASA
 
Scientists previously predicted in 2004 that there was a one-in-45 chance that the asteroid will strike Earth in 2029, but that threat was later lifted after further calculations gave us yet another sigh of life.
 
However, 2036 is not looking so good, according to scientists, with a “non-negligible chance” of an impact that year. The chance is very small, just 1 in 250,000 (a 0.0004 percent chance), but its predicted close proximity then has been the cause of concern for some time.
 
If it hits, NASA said it would be like 500,000,000 tons of TNT going off, making it roughly ten times more powerful than the worst nuclear bomb ever detonated.
 
With so many years to go and a variety of technological advancements likely to be made, scientists may find their predictions inaccurate or may develop tools to redirect the asteroid to avoid a disastrous collision.
 
Image Credit: NASA