the asteroid Apophis will ultimately not be visited by a South Korean probe during its close to Earth in 2029. The ministry of science South Korea indeed indicated that the mission was not not feasible due to “lack of technical capacity”.
The mission, which was to take off between July 2026 and January 2027, consisted of sending a robotic probe to catch up and accompany the asteroid Apophis during its passage in April 2029. The objective was to observe the asteroid and establish a map of its surface to detect structural changes due to rapprochement with the Earth and its gravitational forces.
Since the mission will not take place, we know that the South Korean Ministry of Science will not request the budget of approximately 29.24 million euros which was to be used.
Other asteroids to visit
Despite this cancellation, a ministry official indicated that the country was not going to stop there and that they considered other missions to asteroids in the future. He added that the fourth revision of the country’s space program development plan should contain something “more concrete and realistic”. Last February, the third revision of the plan gave some technical details about the mission to Apophis.
According to the official, they are expected to start working on the fourth revision in the second half of 2022.
Although South Korea will no longer send a probe to study the asteroid Apophis, the NASA has, for its part, something planned to take advantage of the event.
Last April, the American space agency announced that the mission OSIRIS-REx or Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorerwhich is still ongoing, will be redefined to visit Apophis. In this context, the name of the mission will also be transformed to become OSIRIS-APEX which stands for OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer.
It should be noted that the asteroid Apophis is famous due to the fact that it was previously believed that it would fall to Earth in 2068. However, new analyzes have shown that the space rock will not pose a problem for our planet for at least a century.