In its latest update, the European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre moved the asteroid 2018XB4, which was only discovered last year, into it’s top 10 potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (NEOs). The agency is convinced that recent observations indicate a greater likelihood that the giant space object will smash into the Earth. It is now considered the fifth most dangerous NEO in the sky.
The asteroid is a colossal 70 metres in diameter – enough to have a devastating global impact.
An expert on Amazon Primes’ Asteroid Trackers warned that in about 20 years time “Apophis will be on a path that will bring it closer to Earth than our own communications satellites.
“Right now the odds of a cosmic collision seem slim but if something like Apophis were to hit the Earth, you wouldn’t want to be there.”
Apophis is now estimated to have “a probability of about 1 in 7000 to collide with Earth in year 2092”, the ESA reports.
When first discovered in 2014, Apophis had a record-breaking collision risk of four on the Torino scale.
Steve Chesley, a NASA scientist, along with Paul Khodas from the jet propulsion laboratory of NASA, have now predicted the collision could occur on April 13, 2036.
Mr Chesley said: “Apophis has been one of those celestial bodies that has captured the public’s interest since it was discovered in 2004.
“Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the probability of an Earth encounter on April 13 2036 has dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a million.”
NEOs frequently fly past the Earth on their journey around the Sun but rarely make contact with the planet.
Of the 19,563 asteroids and 107 comets that have been discovered only 817 are on the Near Earth Object Coordination Centre’s ‘Risk List’.