Pacific Science Center

Bringing science to life.


PacSci-Doku: “Doomsday – NOT”

By Dennis Schatz – Senior Advisor

Do you Sudoku? It’s one of the hottest number games around! Well, here’s a twist we think you’ll love. We call it PacSci-Doku. Can you guess why? Here’s how it works. Instead of filling in the blanks with numbers, we use letters. Hidden in one of the columns or rows is the answer to a science question. You’ll find information about the answer on the answer tab below.

The question in this edition is:

What will no longer collide with the Earth?

To find the answer, complete this PacSci-Doku using the following nine letters:

I  O  A  X  P  p  Z  H  S

PacSci-Doku: Doomsday - NOT

Puzzle Difficulty: Hard

The Answer

PacSci-Doku: Doomsday - NOTThe question in this edition is:

What will no longer collide with the Earth?

The answer: Apophis

In 2004, astronomers discovered an asteroid that had a 2.7% possibility of colliding with the Earth in 2029. That may seem like a small probability, but it presented the greatest probability of collision with the Earth by any known asteroid. Named Apophis, after the ancient Egyptian god of chaos, chaos is what it could cause if it did hit the Earth. After watching it for 15 years and more accurately calculating its orbit, we now know it will miss the Earth by at least 19,400 miles – still a pretty “close shave” in astronomical scales.

What will happen is that on April 13, 2029, the asteroid will make its closest approach to the Earth, It will appear about as bright as the stars in the little dipper and move slowly across the sky, taking about a minute to travel the width of the full Moon as seen from the Earth. Most people who see it will probably think it is an Earth orbiting satellite. Read more about Apophis’ close approach to the Earth.