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Fact Check: Will An Asteroid Really Hit Earth On April 29, 2020?

NASA had actually warned about some asteroids passing in close proximity to Earth a while back, but will an asteroid hit Earth on April 29? Fact check!

fact check

Claim: NASA warns about an asteroid hitting Earth on April 29, 2020

Rating: False

What is the rumour about?

  • The rumour is about an apparent warning by NASA that talks about an asteroid hitting the Earth on April 29, 2020.
  • There are many versions of the viral message that also state that a huge section of humans will be wiped out from around the globe. 
  • Some messages also state that the Earth will be partially hit and that will put everyone’s life in danger.

Who started the rumour?

  • Many Facebook users started sharing a video by Headlines India and captioned it saying that the world is going to end on April 29. Here is the screenshot of one such post.
  • Many WhatsApp forwards were also seen mentioning the same in different languages. 
  • Few online portals had also misinterpreted the official NASA news leading to a state of panic amongst people reading this message. 
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Image courtesy: Facebook forwards

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Image courtesy: WhatsApp forwards (In Odia language)

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Republic World did a Fact Check on "NASA asteroid to hit on April 29" rumour

  • Republic World did a fact check on the same and the rumour results appear to be false and misleading!
  • According to NASA, the asteroid is referred to as "potentially hazardous" only because it fulfils specific criteria in the NASA classification scheme.
  • If an asteroid orbit intersects Earth’s orbit at less than 7.5 million km, then it is considered as "potentially hazardous". 
  • NASA has claimed that the asteroid, which is officially called as 52768 (1998 OR2), will pass closely near to Earth on April 29, 2020. The distance between Earth and the asteroid is estimated to be approximately 4 million miles, i.e 6.4 million km.
  • NASA has clarified all the doubts by saying that the asteroid is not headed towards Earth and neither it would collide with the planet. It would rather pass by Earth. 
  • NASA is said to have discovered the asteroid in 1998 and since then it has been observing its movement.
  • NASA has clearly stated that every data about the asteroid passing near to Earth is available openly to the public on its website named Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
  • The asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2) is also not found to be in NASA’s Sentry Impact Risk page as well which talks about the potential future events that could impact Earth.
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Image courtesy: CNEOS website (Sentry: Earth Impact Monitoring)

  • Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy mentioned that the 1.8 to 4.1km large asteroid will come as near as 6.3 million km to Earth on April 29. It will not hit Earth but become bright enough that the normal optical equipment can be used to view it properly.
  • NASA clearly stated that the asteroid won’t come any near than 6.3 million km so one need not worry about any future collision. The asteroid will be 16 times far than the moon is.

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Google Trends analysis on NASA asteroid rumour

The NASA asteroid rumour is observed to be most searched on March 25, 2020. 

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Image courtesy: Google Trends

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