NASA says Empire State Building-sized asteroid ‘could hit Earth’ by year 2300
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A new study has increased the probability that asteroid Bennu will smash into Earth between now and the year 2300.
The C-type asteroid, which is listed as a "potentially hazardous object" to human life, was discovered in 1999.
Bennu is one of the two most hazardous known asteroids in the solar system.
Although the chances have increased, scientists have said the probability is still between 1 in 2,700 (about 0.037%).
The study used data from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to better calculate Bennu's movements, according to a NASA news release.
Researchers have been able to rule out some impact scenarios but have raised the overall probability for impact on September 24, 2182.
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OSIRIS-REx spent around two years orbiting Bennu – collecting information about its size, shape, spin, and orbital trajectory.
The menacing asteroid is about one-third of a mile wide.
On May 10, 2021, the spacecraft started its journey back to Earth and is expected to deliver rock and dust samples on September 24, 2023.
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The samples will be tested and studied in laboratories to help researchers gain a better understanding of the menacing asteroid, NPR reports.
If Bennu did hit Earth, it wouldn't wipe out life like the dinosaurs, but instead, create a crater roughly 10 to 20 times the size of the asteroid.
The area of destruction would be much bigger, as much as one hundred times the size of the crater, said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defence officer.
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He added that if an object of Bennu's size hit the northeastern United States it "would pretty much devastate things up down the coast".
Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, and professor at the University of Arizona said in a news release: "The orbital data from this mission helped us better appreciate Bennu’s impact chances over the next couple of centuries and our overall understanding of potentially hazardous asteroids – an incredible result.
"The spacecraft is now returning home, carrying a precious sample from this fascinating ancient object that will help us better understand not only the history of the solar system but also the role of sunlight in altering Bennu’s orbit since we will measure the asteroid’s thermal properties at unprecedented scales in laboratories on Earth."
- End Of The World
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