Could Bennu have a date with Earth?

September 5, 2021

Meet Bennu, the 510m-wide asteroid that could hit Earth in 2182.

Granted, the chances are small—just 0.057%—but it's enough of a concern that NASA has given it some close attention.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft visited Bennu in 2018, mapping its surface and collecting 60 grams' worth of samples for return to Earth in 2023.

Modelling has suggested Bennu's close approach will happen in 2135—and what happens next will depend on whether or not Bennu reaches Earth's "gravitational keyhole".

Entering such a location, at just the right time, would see Earth's gravity bend it towards a likely impact in 2182.

Given the slim chances, there's not too much to worry about. But if you've got plans for 2182, you may want to check the skies before you head out ☄️

Sources and further reading:

OSIRIS-REx Sheds Light on Hazardous Asteroid Bennu by NASA Goddard at YouTube

OSIRIS-REx Heads for Earth with Asteroid Sample at NASA

OSIRIS-REx Overview at NASA

Featured Image:

Bennu, captured by OSIRIS-REx from a distance of 24km | Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

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