Deep Breath: Asteroid 2009 JF1 Won't Smack Into Earth on May 6
The asteroid's path had been mysterious, but scientists have it sorted out.
This morning, I was perusing the Google News science section when I came across a story claiming that NASA has predicted that a space rock
the size of the Great Pyramid will collide with our planet on May 6, and that an impact is "probable.
This is the kind of statement that makes your heart race. But don't be alarmed. Asteroid 2009 JF1 will not collide with us.
A brief scan of Twitter reveals individuals concerned about the news, with many asking the same question
Will it impact Earth? Fortunately, it will pass us by, but there is a fascinating background behind how it came to arouse such anxieties in the first place.
The asteroid had been on the European Space Agency Near-Earth Objects Coordination Center notable risk list, but it got kicked out of the top 10 in February.
It was thought to have a 1 in 4,000 chance of hitting the planet during a close approach in May, but new data dropped that risk to 1 in 1,700,000.
As the name implies, asteroid 2009 JF1 was first discovered in 2009, but experts lost track of it after that and were unable to determine its orbital path or how close it would approach Earth
Since then, tools for calculating asteroid orbits have improved, and a fresh look at existing data has brought the asteroid's risk level into sharper focus.
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