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Increased however nonetheless slim odds of asteroid Bennu slamming Earth

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The great news is that scientists have a greater deal with on asteroid Bennu’s whereabouts for the subsequent 200 years. The unhealthy news is that the house rock has a barely larger likelihood of clobbering Earth than beforehand thought.

However don’t be alarmed: Scientists reported Wednesday that the percentages are nonetheless fairly low that Bennu will hit us within the subsequent century.

“We should not be nervous about it an excessive amount of,” mentioned Davide Farnocchia, a scientist with NASA’s Heart for Close to Earth Object Research on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who served because the research’s lead writer.

Whereas the percentages of a strike have risen from 1-in-2,700 to 1-in-1,750 over the subsequent century or two, scientists now have a a lot better thought of Bennu’s path because of NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft, based on Farnocchia.

“So I feel that general, the state of affairs has improved,” he informed reporters.

The spacecraft is headed again to Earth on an extended, roundabout loop after accumulating samples from the massive, spinning rubble pile of an asteroid, thought of one of many two most hazardous identified asteroids in our photo voltaic system. The samples are due right here in 2023.

Earlier than Osiris-Rex arrived at Bennu in 2018, telescopes offered strong perception into the asteroid, about one-third of a mile (one-half kilometer) in diameter. The spacecraft collected sufficient knowledge over 2 1/2 years to assist scientists higher predict the asteroid’s orbital path effectively into the longer term.

Their findings — printed within the journal Icarus — must also assist in charting the course of different asteroids and provides Earth a greater preventing likelihood if and when one other hazardous house rock heads our manner.

Earlier than Osiris-Rex arrived on the scene, scientists put the percentages of Bennu hitting Earth via the 12 months 2200 at 1-in-2,700. Now it is 1-in-1,750 via the 12 months 2300. The one most menacing day is Sept. 24, 2182.

Bennu could have an in depth encounter with Earth in 2135 when it passes inside half the space of the moon. Earth’s gravity might tweak its future path and put it on a collision course with Earth within the 2200s — much less doubtless now based mostly on Osiris-Rex observations.

If Bennu did slam into Earth, it wouldn’t wipe out life, dinosaur-style, however reasonably create a crater roughly 10 to twenty occasions the dimensions of the asteroid, mentioned Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary protection officer. The realm of devastation can be a lot greater: as a lot as 100 occasions the dimensions of the crater.

If an object Bennu’s dimension hit the Japanese Seaboard, it “would just about devastate issues up and down the coast,” he informed reporters.

Scientists already are forward of the curve with Bennu, which was found in 1999. Discovering threatening asteroids prematurely will increase the probabilities and choices for pushing them out of our manner, Johnson mentioned.

“One-hundred years from now, who is aware of what the know-how goes to be?” he mentioned.

In November, NASA plans to launch a mission to knock an asteroid off-course by hitting it. The experimental goal would be the moonlet of a much bigger house rock.

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The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Training. The AP is solely liable for all content material.

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