(Washington) NASA said on Wednesday that the asteroid Bennu will pass very close to Earth in the year 2135, only half the distance from our planet to the Moon, and new data revealed that the chances of a subsequent impact, by the year 2300, are still slim.
Discovered in 1999 and with a diameter of 500 meters, Bennu is one of the two known asteroids in our solar system that poses the greatest danger to Earth, according to the US space agency. NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe spent two years in orbit around Bennu, which departed last May to bring back samples collected during a few seconds of contact with Earth, which will reach Earth in 2023.
The mission made it possible to study the asteroid more closely, significantly improving predictions on its future path.
Scientists concluded that by the year 2300, the chance of hitting the Earth was only 0.057%.
« Dit autrement, cela veut dire qu’il ya 99.94 % de chances que Bennu ne soit PAS sur une trajectoire d’impact », a souligné Davide Farnocchia, scientifique aux Near Earth Object Studies de la NASA, lors d’une conference Journalist. “So you don’t have to worry too much.”
Why are we not 100% sure?
In September 2135, Bennu will pass close to Earth. This would give it the possibility to cross the so-called “gravitational keyhole”: a region that would slightly alter the asteroid’s path, due to our planet’s gravitational effect, and thus put it on a future collision course.
Prior to the Osiris-Rex mission, 26 “keyholes” will likely be a kilometer or more in Benno Road in the year 2135.
Thanks to the analyzes allowed by the Osiris-Rex probe, scientists were able to rule out 24. The last two remain.
According to them, the most likely date for the impact will be in the year 2182.
If that happens, the event will be disastrous. “The crater will be 10 to 20 times the size of the object,” said Lindley Johnson of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. Or, for Benno, a crater with a diameter of 5-10 kilometers.
“But the area of destruction would be much larger than that, up to 100 times the size of the crater,” he said.
He said researchers were aware of about 79% of asteroids the size of Bennu and close to Earth.
“The danger posed by Benno is actually less than that posed by objects of similar size that we have yet to discover,” recalls David Farnocchia.
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