The best time to deflect an asteroid is before it enters the keyhole. The keyhole is 360 kilometers across, so only a relatively small change in the asteroid’s path is needed to miss it. But once AG5 passes through the keyhole (if it does), then it has to miss the entire Earth! Instead of it missing a target 360 km across, it has to miss a planet 13,000 km across. That usually requires a much larger change in velocity. Either way, hitting it earlier is better.
But if AG5 passes us at just the right distance, the orbit will change just the right amount to put it on a collision course with Earth. This region of space is called a “keyhole”, and in this case, should AG5 slip through it, it will hit us 17 years later, in 2040.
can be calculated for any point in its orbit once we have enough observations of the orbit, and there is no reason I can see that the keyhole should expand suddenly to some unmanageably huge extent after the asteroid makes it closest approach in 2023.
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