- NASA is monitoring asteroid Bennu, capable of releasing energy equivalent to 24 nuclear bombs.
- The potential impact date is September 24, 2182.
- NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission to Bennu seeks to gather insights into Earth’s formation and improve asteroid impact predictions.
NASA scientists have honed in on asteroid Bennu, a gargantuan space rock, comparable in size to the Empire State Building, potentially on a collision course with Earth.
Bennu is part of the category of asteroids known as “city-killers,” capable of leveling extensive urban areas upon impact.
The prospect of a clash between Bennu and Earth has been calculated for September 24, 2182. “NASA is keeping a close eye on it,” ensuring meticulous tracking of Bennu’s trajectory.
If a collision does occur, the energy released would be about 1,400 megatons, reflecting the devastating capability of at least 24 nuclear bombs, comparable to the Tsar Bomba.
The odds of this catastrophic event are slim, with a 1 in 2,700 chance, as stated in a 2021 study. Bennu’s frequent proximity to Earth every six years demands vigilant observation. The asteroid maintains a significant distance from Earth, usually around three million miles. However, alterations in Bennu’s orbit add layers of complexity and risk to its trajectory.
For Bennu to intersect with Earth by 2182, it needs to pass through a gravitational keyhole in 2135. The possibility of it missing Earth on the foretold date stands at 99.96%.
The Osiris-Rex mission, launched in 2016, is NASA’s dedicated effort to study Bennu. The mission aims to collect invaluable data to enhance our understanding of such Near Earth Objects and improve predictive accuracy regarding their paths.
But Bennu is also of interest due to its ancient origin, formed around the same time as Earth, approximately 4.5 billion years ago. It might hold remnants from our solar system’s early days, frozen in time.
The Osiris-Rex spacecraft, expected to return with samples from Bennu, could offer groundbreaking insights into our planet’s formation.
These particles, encapsulating untold mysteries of our planet’s inception, will be meticulously analyzed to unravel Earth’s early history.
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