NASA Probe Arrives at Asteroid Bennu Which Could Strike Earth One Day
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe which was launched in 2016 has pulled up alongside an asteroid that could one day strike Earth.
A 2010 dynamical study by Andrea Milani and collaborators predicted a series of eight potential Earth impacts by Bennu between 2169 and 2199. – wikipedia
Part of NASA’s ongoing New Frontiers Program, the spacecraft has travelled 2 billion kilometers and is now set to spend the next 505 days mapping the space rock in unprecedented detail.
The mission will help to provide us with a better understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system while also offering a detailed close-up look at an object that astronomers believe could one day end up on a collision course with our own planet.
Among the probe’s instruments is a robotic arm and collection device that will gather some of the asteroid’s regolith and pack it up for launching back to Earth for further study in 2023.
With a diameter of almost 500 meters, Bennu would cause some serious damage to our planet if an impact was to take place. Fortunately, though, the likelihood of this happening remains slim.
Even so, learning as much as possible about the asteroid is definitely a wise strategy.