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On the accuracy of the orbit of asteroid (99942) APOPHIS at the time of its encounter with the Earth in 2029

A. S. Zabotin, Yu. D. Medvedev

Astronomy Letters, 35(4), 278-285 (2009)

Keywords: asteroids, Apophis, Monte Carlo method, scatter region of orbital parameters, target plane

About the paper


We estimate the effect of trajectory measurement errors on the orbital parameters of asteroid Apophis determined from improvements. For this purpose, based on all of the optical and radar observations available to date, we have computed a nominal orbit of the asteroid. The scatter ellipsoid of the initial conditions of motion has been obtained by two methods. In the first, universally accepted method, the scatter ellipsoid is calculated by assuming a linear dependence of the errors in the parameters being determined on observational errors. In the second method, the scatter region of the orbital parameters around the nominal-orbit parameters is determined by the Monte Carlo method. We show that the region determined by the latter method at the initial epoch differs only slightly from the scatter ellipsoid for the linear approximation. We estimate the sizes of the projections of the corresponding regions onto the target plane at the time of the closest encounter of the asteroid with the Earth in 2029. The projections are approximated by ellipses. Our computations have shown that the ellipse has the following sizes: 389.6 km for the semimajor axis and 16.4 km for the semiminor axis in the linear case and 330.0 and 11.1 km, respectively, in the nonlinear case.