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Chances of Apophis asteroid hitting Earth less: NASA

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Astrium's Apex satellite studies the Apophis asteroid as it approaches Earth. A file photo.

LOS ANGELES (AP/PTI): NASA has said the chances of a 270-meter asteroid striking Earth in 2036 have been downgraded.

Scientists initially believed there was a 1-in-45,000 chance that Apophis could hit the planet on April 13, 2036.

But NASA on Thursday said the threat has been dropped to 1-in-250,000 after it recalculated the asteroid's path.

"Apophis has been one of those celestial bodies that has captured the public's interest since it was discovered in 2004.

"Updated computational techniques and newly available data indicate the probability of an Earth encounter on April 13, 2036, for Apophis has dropped from one-in-45,000 to about four-in-a million," Steve Chesley, scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said.

Earth got a scare in 2004, when initial readings suggested the newly discovered Apophis seemed to have a chance of hitting in 2029. Further observations ruled out any possibility of an impact.

Approximately the size of two-and-a-half football fields, Apophis is scheduled to make a close but harmless approach in 2029.

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