The scientists regularly scan the skies to discover more about the celestial objects that exist in the cosmos. With all the news around it and new discoveries, one question that keeps running our minds – Are we getting closer to the end of the world?
Well, as per reports from NASA, not anytime soon!
The asteroid Bennu (named after the mythological Egyptian bird), orbits the Earth every six years.
When is this Happening?
A long time from now, but it’s expected to make collision with Earth on September 24, 2182. There is a probability. However, according to NASA, there is a “extremely small chance” that Bennu may collide with Earth. The OSIRIS-REx science team recently presented a new report that estimates that there is a 1:2700 (0.037%) chance that it will hit Earth.
Bennu has a width of around a third of a mile. It is half as big as the asteroid that put the dinosaurs into extinction. It’s not big enough to wipe out life on Earth. But if it collides, there will be destruction up to 600 miles away.
Is There a Solution?
Bennu’s collision route with the asteroid has been detoured according to plans put together by NASA. The final leg of their mission is currently underway.
Richard Burns, project manager for OSIRIS-REx at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland shares about the work being done to redirect this: “We are now in the final leg of this seven-year journey, and it feels very much like the last few miles of a marathon, with a confluence of emotions like pride and joy coexisting with a determined focus to complete the race well.”
Astronomers have shown a serious interest in the asteroid due to the catastrophic threat it poses. Through the Arecibo Observatory and the Goldstone Deep Space Network, they have been closely monitoring the rock.
NASA and the OSIRIS-REx mission
NASA was able to send the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the asteroid in 2020. It travelled for two years and then spent a further two years examining the rock, before entering the object.
“Although it is difficult to determine the odds of this actually happening, new data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft have allowed scientists to better model how Bennu’s orbit will evolve over time, and to better calculate the probability of an impact,” NASA explains.
The rock’s squishy nature left the scientists surprised as they had anticipated a solid surface. The asteroid almost sucked the spacecraft in. It was Sir Brian May, a guitarist for Queen and astronomy enthusiast, who came in to save the day. He got in touch with the group, offering his stereoscopic imaging abilities. In the process, he found a crater without any obstacles. The spaceship made it through the C-type asteroid, keeping the samples unharmed.
The spacecraft will attempt to drop its 250g sample back on Sunday (September 24), as the world watches in anticipation, praying for a safe landing in the Utah deserts.
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