An asteroid travelling at 23,000mph could crash into Earth on April 13, 2036 killing millions and causing global chaos, scientists claim. But , NASA scientists are unperturbed by the reports stating that the possibility of a collision is only 1-in-250,000.
But the question remains should we panic and should we make some shelters which are not affected by asteriod.For USD 970 per head, the wealthiest Muscovites can check into a Stalin-era communications bunker 65 metres underground, which is offering 300 people a 24-hour experience called "A chance to survive".
The asteroid was first discovered in the year 2004 and was designated as 2004 MN4. During the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference in Washington, DC, a paper was delivered discussing the scenarios for dealing with the asteroid.
The Earth may witness a doomsday catastrophe as early as 2036, as scientists are predicting that a massive asteroid travelling at a speed of 23,000 miles per hour could slam into the planet.
If the nearly 275-metre-wide Apophis passes through a narrow gravitational keyhole in April 2029, it will be on course for a massive collision seven years later, most likely on April 13, 2036, the scientists said.
The force of Earth's gravity is so great that if the asteroid goes through the hole its path could be "tweaked" – sending it straight towards us and there was a chance that it collides with Earth, said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program office.
"The situation is that in 2029, April 13, Apophis flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we have already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time," Donald Yeomans said.
"On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach... then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036."
The NASA scientist, however, said such a collision is unlikely although Russian scientists are predicting the asteroid may strike earth in 2036.
Professor Leonid Sokolov of the St Petersburg State University has earlier said that 'Apophis' could approach Earth at a distance of 37,000-38,000 kilometres (per hour) on April 13, 2029.
"Its likely collision with Earth may occur on April 13, 2036. Our task is to consider various alternatives and develop scenarios and plans of action depending on the results of further observations of Apophis," Prof Sokolov was quoted as saying.
Russian scientists held a meeting 14 months ago to look at launching an operation to knock the asteroid off path.
However, US scientists have estimated the actual chance of it happening is one in 250,000. Although it is big enough to cause a lot of damage to the planet it would not bring about the Armageddon.
If it is discovered that Apophis is on course to crash into the earth, NASA would attempt to take evasive action to change its path. The easiest way of doing this would be to crash an unmanned spaceship into the asteroid, the scientist said.
In July 2005 Deep Impact crashed into comet Tempel 1 in an operation to study the interior of a comet. The mission revealed that a comet's nucleus is more dusty and less icy than had been believed.
Mayans' ancestral homeland,
Across the Mayans' ancestral homeland, a vast swathe of Central America including parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala,Honduras and El Salvador, "The End of the World As We Know It", or TEOTWAWKI, has been a shot in the arm for tourism.
Ancient Mayan sites will be buzzing with activity on Friday, hosting ritual reenactments, conferences andsound-and-light shows -- often against the backdrop of protests by indigenous groups who complain their culture is being hijacked.
Even though officials here said no special celebrations were planned to mark the turn of the Mayan calendar on December 21, which happens to coincide with the Winter Solstice, up to 20,000 revelers were awaited at the pyramids anyway.
Around the world, the superstitious have spent the week fretting over an apocalyptic interpretation of the ancient civilization's calendar, taking refuge in mountains or bunkers, with some stockpiling guns and survival kits.
Chichen Itza was once one of the largest Maya cities, and its famous ruins are a popular attraction in Meso-America, and officials were expecting a crush of visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site on the Yucatan peninsula.
"We're expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors," a spokesman for Mexico's National Institute for Anthropology and History, tasked with the safekeeping of the nation's cultural heritage, told reporters.
In Guatemala, President Otto Perez was to kick off a long night of Mayan dance and rituals late yesterday in Tikal National Park in the north of the country lasting until dawn.Tikal, near the Belize border, is the largest archaeological site and urban center of the Maya civilization.
The December 21 mystery stems from a carved stone found in Tortuguero, a Mayan site in Mexico. The relief contains a cryptic allusion to something really big happening today.However, most experts interpret the calendar to mean December 21, 2012 is simply the end of a 5,200-year era for the Maya and the start of another.
This reading says that today marks the end of 13 cycles with which they measured time -- each lasting 400 years.If that's right, everybody can relax and enjoy the ceremonies as folklore. Governments and tourism officials have thus scrambled to cash in on the doomsday frenzy and lure visitors to Mayan sites from Mexico to Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
In Brazil, there was an unusual number of visitors to the town of Alta Paraiso attracted by -- or perhaps fleeing -- the impending cosmic occurrence. The town, well inland of the coast and in Brazil's central highlands, is seen as one of the safest places in the
country to ride out doomsday -- if disaster should, in fact, strike.