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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Asteroid could hit Earth in 2029: Russian astronomer




By IANS
Tuesday October 2, 11:29 AM

Moscow, Oct 2 (RIA Novosti) An asteroid, discovered in 2004, could pose a threat to Earth in 2029, the director of the Russian Institute of Astronomy said.

Boris Shustov said at an international space forum in Moscow Monday that the Apophis asteroid, which is due to cross earth's orbit in 2029 at a height of 27,000 km, could under certain conditions hit earth in 2029.

The explosion could surpass the famous Tunguska explosion of June 30, 1908, which affected a 2,150 square km area of Russia felling over 80 million trees in the Krasnoyarsk Territory in Siberia.

The meteoroid's air blast was estimated to be between 10 and 20 megatons in TNT equivalent or 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The explosion caused a shockwave of around 5.0 on the Richter scale.

However, the asteroid is not likely to repeat the plot of Hollywood blockbusters, as modern technology would allow the asteroid's orbit to be corrected using small satellites, Shustov said.

'To blast an asteroid, as some hot shots suggest, is quite an unpredictable step, and a more cautious approach is welcomed now,' he said.

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