Internet sites love to pounce on the latest ridiculous story, the more outrageous the better. The silliest thing this week propagated by press release aggregators and people who don't check facts was that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth after the German newspaper Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported on Tuesday that student Nico Marquardt was right and NASA was wrong.
NASA, used to being the target of fringe conspiracy theorists who will believe anything they want to believe, issued the following statement in response:
The Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has not changed its current estimates for the very low probability (1 in 45,000) of an Earth impact by the asteroid Apophis in 2036.
Contrary to recent press reports, NASA offices involved in near-Earth object research were not contacted and have had no correspondence with a young German student, who claims the Apophis impact probability is far higher than the current estimate.
This student's conclusion reportedly is based on the possibility of a collision with an artificial satellite during the asteroid's close approach in April 2029. However, the asteroid will not pass near the main belt of geosynchronous satellites in 2029, and the chance of a collision with a satellite is exceedingly remote.
Therefore, consideration of this satellite collision scenario does not affect the current impact probability estimate for Apophis, which remains at 1 in 45,000.
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