In comments that baffled many experts worldwide, Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov said his agency is considering a project to deflect the asteroid Apophis, which has a 1-in-233,000 chance of hitting the Earth in 2036. RIA Novosti reports:
“A scientist recently told me an interesting thing about the path [of an asteroid] constantly nearing Earth… He has calculated that it will surely collide with Earth in the 2030s,” Anatoly Perminov said during an interview with the Voice of Russia radio.
Perminov said Russia was not planning to destroy the asteroid. “No nuclear explosions [will be carried out], everything [will be done] on the basis of the laws of physics,” he said.
The Russian space official also said after having considered the project, Russia could invite experts from Europe, the United States and China to join it.
Apophis has caused some concerns in the scientific community. The main concern has been that when the asteroid flies by Earth in 2029, it might pass through a gravitational keyhole that would redirect it toward an impact seven years later. After further observations of its orbit, scientists at JPL have calculated that Apophis has a 99.99957% chance of missing Earth in 2036.
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