NASA predicts a major asteroid impact could take place in Earth’s future

The related video above is an interview with a NASA astronaut about his extended stay in space.

(WTAJ) – NASA scientists predict that the asteroid Bennu could hit Earth in the future, potentially affecting an area the size of Texas.

Bennu is a near-Earth object (NEO) that passes by the planet about every six years, and experts have been monitoring it since its discovery in September 1999.

Scientists say Bennu has a chance of passing through what they call a “gravitational keyhole,” which would send it on a collision course with Earth in 2182.

A new paper from the OSIRIS-REx science team predicts that Bennu has a 0.037% chance (1 in 2,700) of hitting Earth; much of that will depend on another overview. In 2135, Bennu will pass past Earth just close enough that our planet’s gravitational pull can affect it in just the right way to put it on track to hit us on September 24, 2182 – almost 159 years ago day to the day from the date of writing these lines.

Visualization depicting the 2182 Bennu-Earth flyby. The location of Bennu in 2182 will vary depending on how the 2135 flyby takes place. Two representations of Bennu are shown. The white dot represents an accident with Earth and the gray dot represents an extremely unlikely (1:2,700 or 0.037% chance) impact with Earth. Earth’s orbit is shown in light blue. (NASA video)

The asteroid Bennu is a third of a mile wide, or about three city blocks. Its impact could affect an area the size of Texas. Bennu, however, is still much smaller than the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, and which was said to be six miles wide.

Although much smaller, claims the impact would release 1,200 megatons of energy, 24 times more powerful than any man-made nuclear weapon.

“We have never modeled the trajectory of an asteroid with this precision before,” said Davide Farnocchia, study leader at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.

“The OSIRIS-REx data gives us much more precise information, we can test the limits of our models and calculate the future trajectory of Bennu with a very high degree of certainty until 2135,” Farnocchia added.


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