NASA Predicts Chance of Asteroid Bennu Striking Earth, Potentially affecting Area the Size of Texas

NASA scientists have raised concerns about the possibility of asteroid Bennu colliding with Earth in the future, posing a potential threat to an area the size of Texas. Bennu is a Near-Earth Object (NEO) that passes by the planet approximately every six years and has been under observation since its discovery in September 1999.

According to experts, there is a chance that Bennu could pass through a “gravity keyhole,” altering its trajectory and putting it on a collision course with Earth in the year 2182. A recent study conducted by the OSIRIS-REx science team suggests that Bennu has a 0.037% chance (1 in 2,700) of hitting Earth, depending on its next flyby in 2135.

The mass and size of the Bennu asteroid are significantly smaller in comparison to the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Bennu measures only one-third of a mile wide, roughly the size of three city blocks. Despite its smaller size, the impact of Bennu on Earth would release an energy equivalent to 1,200 megatons, which is 24 times more powerful than any man-made nuclear weapon.

Davide Farnocchia, the study lead from the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, has commented on the precision of the asteroid’s trajectory calculations. The OSIRIS-REx data has provided more precise information, allowing scientists to test the limits of their models and accurately predict the future trajectory of Bennu until 2135.

While the chances of Bennu colliding with Earth are considered low, ongoing monitoring and further study of the asteroid will be essential to provide a better understanding of its future path. With advancements in technology and more research, scientists hope to develop strategies to mitigate potential asteroid impacts and safeguard our planet in the future.

Sources:
– Title: NASA Predicts Chance of Asteroid Bennu Impacting Earth, Size of Texas Area
– Source: WTAJ
– Authors: Not disclosed
– Published Date: Not disclosed