An armada for asteroid Apophis?

An armada for asteroid Apophis?

BBC World Service

About this episode

Friday, April 13th 2029 – mark it in your calendar. That’s the day an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will fly past Earth, closer than some satellites. Don’t worry – it will miss, but it’ll will pass so close to Earth that it will be visible to the naked eye of 2 billion people, particularly in North Africa and Western Europe.

Roland Pease this week attended the Apophis T-5 Years conference at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, meeting astronomers scrambling to get missions up to the object to learn what kind of threats such asteroids might pose to us in the future and to discuss the science of planetary defence.

NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX, a follow-on to OSIRIS-REx, will study the physical changes due to the gravitational forces from the Earth as it closely passes us by. But will there be an armada of spacecraft sent to monitor Apophis? The European Space Agency hope to gather support for their own mission, RAMSES.

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Jonathan Blackwell

Image Credit: JPL/Caltech