An impact in 2039?

(Published in Grail World 14/2000)

In the Grail World No. 9 we reported under the heading "Death from space"(Here under" Science ") about the theoretical possibility of an impact, that is, the collision of our earth with a minor planet or comet.

In May 1999, a message went through the media that the tiny planet NEO 1999AN10 would come dangerously close to Earth, and that an impact is even to be feared in 2039.

NEO (Near Earth Orbiter) are asteroids that cross the earth's orbit and can therefore collide with our planet. For a number of years there has been a systematic search for such objects, as the view has prevailed that impacts occurred in the past and that such catastrophes cannot be ruled out in the future.

NEO 1999AN10 was discovered on January 13, 1999. Its orbital period is about 2 years, and it will come close to Earth several times over the next few decades, e.g. 2027 and 2039. The current orbital calculations are fraught with some uncertainties, but astronomers consider the risk of an impact during the next four decades to be extremely low. Such a collision would therefore only have a probability of 1:10 in the period mentioned12 (One in a trillion) to be expected. That is far less than the 1:10 probability of a collision with a previously undiscovered asteroid or comet5 (One in a hundred thousand) per year. 

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