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NASA preps for “God of Chaos” asteroid

Gravity influenced rock to pass earth in next decade

Named after the ancient Egyptian “God of Chaos”, 99942 Apophis, an asteroid as wide as the height of the Eiffel Tower, will rocket past the Earth in the next decade.

The “God of Chaos” will pass within 19,000 miles of the Earth’s surface, meaning it will be on the inner ring of our planet’s satellites and orbiting spacecraft. Other asteroids have passed inside of the ring, it’s rare to see one so large so close to the Earth. The average size of previous asteroids passing in this zone is 5-10 meters.

NASA believes that the “God of Chaos” will pass so close that it could be affected by the Earth’s gravity. “We already know that the close encounter with Earth will change Apophis’ orbit,” said Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL’s Center for Near-Earth Objects Studies (CNEOS). “But our models also show the close approach could change the way this asteroid spins, and it is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches.”

This animation shows the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are the many man-made satellites that orbit our planet, and the pink represents the International Space Station. Credit: Marina Brozović/JPL

The Asteroid has been categorized as a PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroid) that has a 1-in-100,000 chance of impacting the Earth. The Asteroid will be visible from the Earth with the naked eye. While the Asteroid isn’t expected until 2029, astronomers are already planning watching events across the globe for the extraordinary event.


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