Earth is at risk as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) deep space explorer Osiris-Rex has found an asteroid that has the potential to collide with our planet in around 166 years from now.
Osiris-Rex that flew on Monday reveled that the skyscraper-sized asteroid also holds organic compounds fundamental to life, as reported by India Today.
This discovery came into light as Nasa’s deep space probe Osiris-Rex launched in September 2016 on a seven-year mission to collect information on asteroid Bennu for study.
Why Study Asteroid Bennu
The asteroid Bennu is an interesting project to study as it orbits the sun from the same distance as our planet and believed to be rich in carbon-based organic molecules, according to a Reuters report.
The study was also initiated as it is believed that water may be trapped in the asteroid’s minerals.
Also study of the asteroid might also help to understand the condition when asteroids and comets crashed into early Earth.
This study became important after scientists estimate there is a one-in-2,700 chance of the asteroid slamming catastrophically into Earth 166 years from now.
Thus, Bennu becomes No 2 on Nasa’s catalogue of 72 near-Earth objects potentially capable of hitting the planet.
“By the time we collect the sample in 2020 we will have a much better idea of the probability that Bennu would impact Earth in the next 150 years,” Reuters quoted mission spokeswoman Erin Morton as saying.
Scientists have estimated that in 2135 Bennu could pass closer to Earth than the moon, which orbits at a distance of about 4,02,336 km, and possibly come closer still sometime between 2175 and 2195, reported NDTV.
NASA is developing a strategy for deflecting Bennu, a planetary defense officer with Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate, said.
“But this is all dependent on the outcome of a very close approach that Bennu has with Earth in September 2135,” Johnson said. “We’ll just need to wait and see. Rather, our great-great-grandchildren will need to see,” the report mentioned.