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Infamous asteroid Apophis ‘rediscovered’ as scientists test asteroid defense mechanisms

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Infamous asteroid Apophis ‘rediscovered’ as scientists test asteroid defense mechanisms

An artist's impression of a potentially hazardous asteroid passing close to Earth.

An artist’s impression of a potentially hazardous asteroid passing close to Earth. (Image credit: Juan Gartner via Getty Images)

A test of whether asteroid defense systems could spot a potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid on its closest approach successfully “rediscovered” the infamous asteroid 99942 Apophis, which will make a close encounter with our planet in 2029.

For this asteroid defense exercise, all previous data on Apophis were made inaccessible. This meant that astronomers had to start afresh during the asteroid’s close approach, which began in December 2020 and culminated in March 2021. Would Apophis slip through the net, or could our network of sky surveys find it?

Many asteroid-hunting surveys, which routinely scan the sky for potentially hazardous asteroids, were involved in the project, which included over 100 scientists from 18 countries. 

Related: Planetary defense experts use infamous asteroid Apophis to practice spotting dangerous space rocks

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Apophis caused a stir when it was first discovered back in 2004. At that time, the asteroid’s orbit was not known well enough to rule out an impact with Earth in 2029 or 2036. The B612 Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research and technologies for mapping and navigating the solar system, publicized the potential danger posed by Apophis, but refined calculations of its orbit have since ruled out the possibility of an impact anytime soon.

Now, astronomers were tasked with doing this again to prove their ability to quickly identify and then assess the hazard posed by any future discovery of a potentially dangerous asteroid

The project “stress-tested the entire planetary defense response chain, from initial detection, to orbit determination, to measuring the asteroid’s physical characteristics and even determining if and where it might hit Earth,” Vishnu Reddy, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory who led the campaign, said in a NASA statement.

The path of asteroid 99942 Apophis as it came within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of Earth. The ring of geostationary satellites is shown for comparison.

The path of asteroid 99942 Apophis as it came within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of Earth. The ring of geostationary satellites is shown for comparison. (Image credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech)

During the test, Apophis was spotted first by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, with subsequent detections from the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) — which has observatories in Chile, Hawaii and South Africa — and the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii. Perhaps the most important measurements were from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft, which used its thermal vision to accurately measure the size and shape of Apophis. It identified Apophis as an elongated object with a diameter of 886 to 1,345 feet (270 to 410 meters). 

Based on NEOWISE’s measurements, scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California got a better estimate of the energy that would be unleashed if Apophis were to collide with Earth. They calculated that an impact would carry approximately 8.5 x 10^19 joules of energy, which is equivalent to 20 million kilotons of TNT and 10,000 times more powerful than the Chelyabinsk meteor airburst over Russia in 2013. The damage wrought by Apophis would be devastating, but only on a regional scale; it is not massive enough to cause the global extinction of human life. 

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By Dec. 23, 2020, the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, which is the collecting body for all asteroid and comet observations, had enough data to announce the rediscovery of Apophis as a new asteroid but not enough data to rule out an impact.

The Goldstone radar's imagery of asteroid 99942 Apophis as it made its closest approach to Earth, in March 2021.

The Goldstone radar’s imagery of asteroid 99942 Apophis as it made its closest approach to Earth, in March 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech/NSF/AUI/GBO)

“Even though we knew that, in reality, Apophis was not impacting Earth in 2029 starting from square one … there were large uncertainties in the object’s orbit that theoretically allowed an impact that year,” Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the statement.

Farnocchia led efforts to calculate Apophis’ orbit, which were boosted by the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California in March 2021. This ground-based radar produced images of Apophis and measured its velocity and distance, thus yielding a more accurate calculation of the asteroid’s orbit. This information was finally enough to rule out a collision in 2029 or for at least the next 100 years.

“Seeing the planetary defense community come together during the latest close approach of Apophis was impressive,” Michael Kelley, a program scientist with NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, said in the statement. “Even during a pandemic, when many of the exercise participants were forced to work remotely, we were able to detect, track, and learn more about a potential hazard with great efficiency. The exercise was a resounding success.”

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will visit Apophis during its close approach to Earth in 2029. Meanwhile, a successor to NEOWISE, the NEO Surveyor, will launch mid-decade.

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Two papers describing the results of the project were published May 31 in The Planetary Science Journal.

Follow Keith Cooper on Twitter @21stCenturySETI. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Keith Cooper

Keith Cooper is a freelance science journalist and editor in the United Kingdom, and has a degree in physics and astrophysics from the University of Manchester. He’s the author of “The Contact Paradox: Challenging Our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2020) and has written articles on astronomy, space, physics and astrobiology for a multitude of magazines and websites.

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Brand new Thor: Love and Thunder clip reveals Mjolnir’s new power

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Brand new Thor: Love and Thunder clip reveals Mjolnir’s new power

We’ve known Mjolnir would be repaired ever since Marvel announced Thor: Love and Thunder nearly three years ago. Just as we’ve known that Jane (Natalie Portman) would return to Thor 4 where she would rock the Mjolnir hammer. But Marvel never explained how the magical hammer would find its way back to Thor, and that remains one of the biggest questions surrounding Love and Thunder.

But Marvel did show the hammer in trailers and TV commercials, going as far as to tease that Mjolnir will get a new power in Love and Thunder. And, with only a couple of weeks left to go to the premiere, Marvel confirmed the new Mjolnir power that Mighty Thor would wield. Mind you, some spoilers will follow below.

The new Mjolnir power

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lost Mjolnir in Ragnarok in a memorable scene. His sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) caught the hammer, held onto it, and then broke it into multiple pieces.

It all happened right before the events in Infinity War, so Thor found himself without a weapon while facing Thanos (Josh Brolin). That’s why he created Stormbreaker, an equally impressive hammer that Thor used for more than five years in the MCU.

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The Mjolnir that Captain America (Chris Evans) got in Endgame came from a different reality. So the same Cap took it back to that timeline, leaving Thor to use Stormbreaker.

Jane Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman) holding a repaired Mjolnir
Jane Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman) holding a repaired Mjolnir. Image source: Marvel Studios

The Love and Thunder trailers made it clear so far that it’s not Thor who will repair Mjolnir. He’s shocked to see the hammer appear. Even more so to find out that Jane is using it while wearing armor similar to his.

We saw Jane in a bunch of fights in Love and Thunder trailers that showed familiar Mjolnir powers. She’s throwing and retrieving the hammer just like Thor did. She can call on Lightning, and she can fly using the weapon.

But in one trailer, it seemed as if the hammer’s various pieces could break free after you throw the hammer. Each piece would act as a stone projectile, hitting a different target. After that, the elements will return to the hammer.

That’s an exciting power that we thought Marvel would not confirm while marketing the movie. But Marvel released on Thursday the following Love and Thunder clip that confirms this new Mjolnir ability.

Watch all the new Thor: Love and Thunder clips right here

As you can see above, we’re looking at an actual scene from the movie, the mysterious fight where Thor senses Mjolnir and sees Jane using it. And it’s in this clip we see for the first time the hideous monsters attacking what seems to be planet Earth. And Jane uses Mjolnir’s new power to fight these beasts.

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That’s not the only Love and Thunder clip that Marvel released this week. Also, on Thursday, Marvel gave fans another great scene from the movie featuring Thor and the Guardians as they prepare to save the people on a planet who lost their gods.

Thor is giving a motivational speech that might sound exciting to the natives. But we soon find out that it’s a speech that Thor often gives, one that the Guardians are more than familiar with. There’s no Mjolnir in this Love and Thunder scene, however.

Finally, there’s another clip that Marvel released earlier this week, one where the same Thor talks about forming the “greatest team ever” to beat the maniac who is looking to end them all. You’ll see some Mjolnir action in this one, as well as the goats that Thor will end up with below:

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More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.

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5 new Netflix releases everyone will be watching this weekend

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5 new Netflix releases everyone will be watching this weekend

One of the biggest Netflix releases of all time is back — sort of.

The Spanish-language thriller Money Heist, released back in 2017, was a twisty, action-packed drama about a stylishly-clad band of thieves — working under the auspices of a brilliant character known as The Professor — who (initially) break into the Royal Mint of Spain. There was a Robin Hood, us-against-the-system vibe to the show, a populist streak that helped turn it into a staggeringly huge Netflix original series.

In fact, three of the series’ five seasons occupy individual slots on the streamer’s Top 10 ranking of the biggest non-English TV shows of all time, having garnered hundreds of millions of hours viewed worldwide between them. So, having said that, can you blame the streaming giant for wanting to resurrect the now-ended series and give it a try in Korean, reworking the show into an all-new Netflix release for another massive global audience?

Money Heist: Korea

It’s probably less correct, by the way, to regard the result — the just-released Money Heist Korea — Joint Economic Area — as a remake of the original than it is a “reimagining,” however. A remake, for example, would imply that the main difference here is simply the language, with pretty much everything else largely the same.

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Instead, the crux of the story here is completely different. This time, the series imagines a unified Korean peninsula in an imaginary future. Naturally, there would have to be a unified currency for such a new and expanded Korea, right? Voila: The need to print new money, which becomes a juicy target for our thieves.

Speaking of the thieves, they do once again don bright red jumpsuits and white face masks. There’s also still a brilliant “Professor” behind it all. And the thieves take the names of cities as aliases, just like they did in the original Money Heist.

money heist korea netflix
A still from the Netflix series “Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area.” Image source: Jung Jaegu/Netflix

“As a border looks set to vanish,” Netflix explains about this new series release, “the people of a long-divided peninsula seem about to reunite — but there are unsettling consequences.”

Under the new economic union, the streamer continues, only the rich have gotten richer. “Into this ruthless new world of inequality steps a crew of thieves from North and South Korea, led by the Professor, who set out to pull off a history-making heist.”

In this new retelling, Netflix continues, a “Joint Security Area” is situated between the two halves of the peninsula. And it contains a mint that becomes the focus of the story. “Amid reunification, the mint is printing a new unified currency as the groundwork to build a stable joint economy.”

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Other new Netflix releases

In terms of other new Netflix releases now available to stream, meanwhile, besides the new Money Heist? There’s a new slapstick action-comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson to check out. Plus the long-awaited Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy, and a new reality series about super-spoiled, overly sensitive young people. Additionally, you can read more about each release, with details from Netflix, below.

The Man From Toronto: “A case of mistaken identity forces a bumbling entrepreneur to team up with a notorious assassin known as The Man from Toronto in hopes of staying alive.”

Umbrella Academy — Season 3: “Reunited by their father’s death, estranged siblings with extraordinary powers uncover shocking family secrets — and a looming threat to humanity.”

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Snowflake Mountain: “Hopelessly entitled or simply in need of tough love? Ten spoiled young adults experience nature without a parental safety net in this reality series.”

A New Netflix movie to check out

love & gelato netflix
(L to R) Susanna Skaggs as Lina, Anjelika Washington as Addie, and Valentina Lodovini as Francesca in the Netflix movie “Love & Gelato.” Image source: Maila Iacovelli/Netflix

We’ve also got one more title to mention, in our look at the latest and buzziest Netflix releases.

The #5 movie on Netflix in the US at the time of this writing, which hit the streamer just this week, is the sweet Love & Gelato — a Netflix release from writer-director Brandon Camp. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by Jenna Evans Welch. And it’s easy to see why this one is so popular among many Netflix subscribers at the moment. It’s got young love, the picturesque setting of Italy — what more could you want?

As for the story, Lina is a young American girl who’s traveled to Rome to honor her mother’s memory. “Catapulted into an unknown country,” Netflix explains, “too messy and full of chaos for her serious, methodical, and even a little nerdy nature, she will find herself forced to have to deal with all her obsessions, anxieties, and fears but also to have to deal with the past of her mother who hides some surprises and some secrets.

“Immersed in magical landscapes and in unfamiliar and exciting foods, fascinated by the unique style of Italian fashion, overwhelmed by romantic unexpected events, and overwhelmed by a new and anomalous family, Lina will learn to look to the world and to herself with a finally different eye.”

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More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix news, check out the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.

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Tesla’s Are Safer and Here is Proof

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Tesla’s Are Safer and Here is Proof




I did some research on Tesla safety using non-Tesla data to address the issue from the AI experts. Some AI experts criticized FSD. I used US, UK government and insurance data to show Tesla is already safer and why we should expect more safety from Autopilot and FSD. I also provided context about where and how accidents and deaths occur with cars.

Are Tesla cars safer and have they saved lives ? Spoiler Yes.

Has Tesla Autopilot saved lives? Again Yes. but I will provide data.

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Is FSD beta safe? Yes,

Is Autopilot safe? How many lives would you expect to save by superior automatic lane keeping? 20-30% of traffic deaths.

Will Full FSD be safer? Yes, and safety score can help ensure it will be.

Can Safety Scoring, Insurance and FSD get more optimal usage of FSD? Yes.

All Tesla’s come with safety features expected to reduce accidents by 30-50% (NHTSA analysis of those features)

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Youtube videos by FSD beta users show large improvement over last 8 months. No major accidents or deaths using FSD beta with 100k users for 7 months

Insurance and government statistics in US and UK show Tesla’s are among the safest cars involved in the fewest accidents. About 40% below average in US. Very Low accidents involvement in UK (10 times less than Toyota, Ford and several others of number per 10,000 cars).

UK Car Statistics

Tesls is among the manufacturers with the least number of accidents per 10,000 models?


Morris – 16


Austin – 26


Tesla – 28


Ferrari – 39


Aston Martin – 40


Lotus – 55


Bentley – 75

This is ten times less than Ford, Toyota and Mercedes in the UK.


Tesla is willing to charge 30-60% less for those with good Tesla Safety Scores. Can motivate 60% safer driving and lower accidents. Safety Scores with Real Time Insurance pricing can motivate safer driving.

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Safety Scoring could be adjusted to ensure FSD monitoring behavior after FSD is fully released for general usage.

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2024 Improved Tesla Standard Range Model 3 Will Increase Sales by 50%


Tesla AI Will Supercharge Tesla Profits


Meet Kevin and Bloomberg are Wrong, Volkswagen Will Not be Number 1 in EVs in 2025


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Tesla Real Risks, FUD, Recession and Recovery


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