It's little wonder that the name "Apophis" fills people with dread. The name is Greek for an ancient evil Egyptian god. Also, a potentially hazardous asteroid was given the ominous name when it was discovered in 2004.
Now, astronomers using the European Herschel Space Observatory have discovered something a little unsettling: asteroid 99942 Apophis is actually bigger than we thought. In fact, it's been supersized by 20 percent.
Asteroid Apophis catapulted to fame in 2004 when a study predicted a 2.7 percent chance of Earth impact in April 2029. Since then, the threat level has been downgraded. However, the space rock will still make a very close pass with our planet, coming within 22,364 miles (36,000 kilometers), zooming below the orbit of geostationary satellites. But Apophis' orbit is a bit tricky as it will make yet another close pass in 2036. Although the return trip was also a concern, as of Jan. 9, Apophis' impact risk in 2036 has been further reduced to a vanishingly small 1 in 7,143,000.