NASA has been tracking a lot of asteroids that could be threats to Earth. However, one specific asteroid is proving to have the most potential in terms of protecting the planet from a future devastating impact.
The asteroid, Bennu, has been under observation by the NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx for some time now. According to the NASA website, they're currently studying asteroid Bennu's orbit in the hopes of predicting where it will be going next until the year 2300. Aside from this, the data from OSIRIS-REx also aims to improve the ability of Earth's scientists to calculate the actual hit probability of any asteroids.
So far, NASA has learned a lot from observing asteroid Bennu's orbit. However, their biggest finding revealed that the asteroid will make a very close pass to Earth in the year 2135. It still won't hit the planet by that time, though, because the single date where an impact is most probable is September 24, 2182.
As for the year 2300, NASA has also calculated Bennu's impact probability as 1 in 1,750. That's a 0.057 percent chance. This is a statistically low impact chance, but it proves that the observation of Bennu's orbit isn't going to waste. With the data, Earth can have more than enough time to prepare an adequate defense and save mankind from a potential fate similar to that of the dinosaurs.
Bennu was the first asteroid that NASA was able to land a spacecraft onto (the OSIRIS-REx) and collect samples from.
NASA And Its Race To Protect the Earth from an Asteroid Impact
If you didn't already know, NASA is actually helping devise a planetary defense system that will protect Earth from an asteroid impact in the future. They bared their plans back in late May, when the agency used a theoretical gargantuan space rock the size of the entire state of Texas as an example.
According to the scientists at NASA, this won't be a case of the film "Armageddon" playing out in real life. In the movie, the team led by Bruce Willis only had 18 days to do their job. But experts say that in order to provide Earth the absolute best chance of stopping an asteroid as big as Texas, a 5-year head start would be the bare minimum.
But how does NASA do this? Let's go back to the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The team that used the data it collected has been extremely accurate at calculating Bennu's distance from Earth. In the calculations they made from 2019 and 2020, they managed to pinpoint the asteroid's distance to within about seven feet around "dozens" of times, according to National Geographic.
While that doesn't sound amazing at all, here is the context. Bennu's average distance from Earth is around 200 million miles, according to EarthSky.org. Measuring its predicted distance from the planet within seven feet is extremely precise. It's like measuring the distance between the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building to within thousandths of an inch.
With accuracy like that, the chances of humanity surviving well into the next millennium increase tenfold.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by RJ Pierce