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Sadly, the catastrophic impact with Apophis asteroid isn’t going to happen in 2068 • The Register

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Humanity can breathe a sigh of relief. Asteroid 99942 Apophis, a 340-metre-wide space rock scientists initially believed to be one of the most hazardous near-Earth objects, will not hit our planet in 2068 as feared, after all.

“A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility anymore, and our calculations don’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years,” Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer working at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, confirmed this week.

Apophis has sparked many scaremongering headlines since it was discovered in 2004, and given the Greek name for Apep, an Egyptian god associated with darkness and death. The rock was immediately added to databases listing the riskiest asteroids by NASA and the European Space Station.

At first, astronomers tracking the object said there was a small risk it would smash into Earth in 2029. That was later ruled out, though they said it could have a second chance when it comes near again in 2036. The risk was, again, recalculated and found to be off as well, though the scientists said the space rock could come back to threaten us in 2068.

‘Doomsday’ asteroid Apophis more massive than first thought

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Those fears, however, have been put to rest after boffins were able to get a closer look at Apophis’s orbit as it passed by at a safe distance on March 5. Now they reckon it won’t crash into Earth in 2068 nor any time over the next century. Experts are so sure about this that the asteroid has been removed from official risk lists by NASA and the ESA.

“With the support of recent optical observations and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in Apophis’ orbit has collapsed from hundreds of kilometers to just a handful of kilometers when projected to 2029. This greatly improved knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more certainty of its future motion, so we can now remove Apophis from the risk list,” Farnocchia added.

The persistent asteroid is still scheduled to fly by Earth at a distance of less than 32,000km (20,000 miles) – placing it even closer than some satellites in geosynchronous orbits – on April 13, 2029, though our planet’s gravity will deflect its path, nudging it further away into space. Here’s a quick video showing its future trajectory.

Youtube Video

For this development, you can thank the astronomers who monitored the object using a 70-metre (230-foot) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the US, and were able to track the rock’s motion to an accuracy of about 150 metese.

The radar images have a resolution of about 38.75 metres (127 feet) per pixel – not bad for trying to eyeball a moving object 17 million kilometres away. “If we had binoculars as powerful as this radar, we would be able to sit in Los Angeles and read a dinner menu at a restaurant in New York,” said Marina Brozovic, a scientist working at JPL, who led the radar observations.

Instead of feeling a tiny sense of dread, we can now all look forward to Apophis paying us a harmless visit in eight years when it will be visible to the naked eye. Scientists will use this opportunity to study the asteroid at an even closer detail than currently possible to figure out how fast it’s spinning and if that could cause “asteroid quakes” on its surface.

“When I started working with asteroids after college, Apophis was the poster child for hazardous asteroids,” said Farnocchia. “There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to see it removed from the risk list, and we’re looking forward to the science we might uncover during its close approach in 2029.” ®

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I can’t charge my electric car cheaply because I’m too close to an RAF base | Money

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A few months ago I decided to switch energy supplier and moved to Octopus Energy’s Go tariff, principally because it offers cheap electric car charging overnight at a rate of 5p/kWh.

I applied to have the required smart meter installed. But after being given a date, I was later declined on the basis that smart meters cannot work at my address because they interfere with the missile early warning system at RAF Fylingdales.

Initially, I thought this was a joke. I have been involved with the construction of hundreds of new homes in Teesside, all of which have had smart meters installed.

Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for the rollout, has confirmed that this is very real, and smart meters installed in the area will not have had their smart capacity turned on.

I was told that a new meter is being worked upon and will eventually replace those already installed.

Meanwhile, I am having to charge my car at a premium rate of 16.76p/kWh which is costing me about £26 more a week than it would be on the Go tariff.

AM, Guisborough

Given that your house is more than 20 miles from the RAF base in question, I, too, was amazed that this could be an issue, but it is – and also in other areas close to bases.

Smart Meter GB has confirmed this is the case and says it is working on a solution – a communications hub that will enable people living near sensitive RAF sites to use smart meters.

It says these will be offered to customers “in the coming months”.

It adds those in the affected area, who had already had smart meters installed should be able to have the hubs retrofitted.

Meanwhile, Octopus has come up with a solution for your problem. It has offered to add you to the trial of these new meters, which, in turn, will allow you to go on the Go tariff.

It says it hopes to install your new meter before Christmas. It has also said that if you get the log from your charging firm, showing how much electricity you have used for the car since the switch took place, it will retroactively apply the savings that you would have gained had the smart meter worked from the start – a generous offer.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include a phone number. Letters are subject to our terms: gu.com/letters-terms

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China’s Yutu rover spots ‘mysterious hut’ on far side of the Moon

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Cube-shaped object is probably just a rock. Yutu will check it out anyway

China’s Moon rover, Yutu 2, has sent images of a strangely geometric object.…

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Strikepay struck gold at National Startup Awards 2021

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Strikepay, founded by fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, scooped the top award for its fast-growing cash-free tipping tech.

Irish fintech company Strikepay has scooped the top prize at this year’s National Startup Awards.

The start-up, previously called Strike, was founded in 2020 to enable cash-free tipping without the need for a payment terminal or a new app on a customer’s phone.

Its founders, fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, raised €625,000 in seed funding earlier this year and said they intended to seek a further €6.5m in investment by the end of 2021.

Strikepay has already begun acquiring and collaborating with other companies to bolster its product offering. In June, it acquired UK payments rival Gratsi and in April it appointed former Just Eat exec Edel Kinane as its chief growth officer.

Earlier in the year, it teamed up with Camile Thai Kitchen to enable contactless tipping for food delivery drivers and partnered with mobility company Bolt to bring its cashless tipping technology to taxis in Dublin.

Strikepay was one of several winners at the awards ceremony, which was livestreamed last night (2 December).

Other winners included health-tech start-up Stimul.ai, customer analysis tech business Glimpse, and sheep monitoring start-up Cotter Agritech, which has been participating in a new accelerator programme at University College Dublin.

As well as taking the top award, Strikepay also won Best Fintech Startup.

This year marked the 10th year of the National Startup Awards. The event was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland, Sage, Cronin Accountants and McCann Fitzgerald.

Last year’s top award was given to drone delivery service Manna. The start-up had been working with companies such as Tesco, Just Eat and Camile Thai to test its drones, and has seen further growth since then.

The full list of winners at the 2021 awards, in order of gold, silver and bronze, are:

Startup of the Year 2021

Strikepay

Early Stage Startup

Imvizar, CyberPie, The Fifth Dimension

Emerge Tech Startup

Xunison, Helgen Technologies, LiveCosts.com

Fintech Startup

Strikepay, ID-Pal, Itus Secure Technologies

Food and Drink Startup

Fiid, SiSú, Thanks Plants

Social or Sustainable Startup

Altra, Peer, Fifty Shades Greener

Product and Manufacturing Startup

Cotter Agritech, Orca Board, Filter

E-commerce and Retail Startup

FinalBend, The Book Resort, Nufields

Tech Startup

Glimpse, LegitFit, Examfly

Medtech Startup

Stumul.ai, SymPhysis Medical, Bonafi

Covid Pivot or Response Startup

Zoom Party/Find A Venue, KSH Group, Streat School

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