Data collected from a NASA spacecraft’s visit to the potentially hazardous asteroid Bennu reveals future generations will want to keep a close eye on the big space rock as it makes close passes by Earth in the 22nd century.
Researchers used information from the Osiris-Rex mission that spent over two years orbiting, studying and even sampling Bennu to get a better idea of its future path through the inner solar system. They found the minuscule chance the 1,700-foot-wide (518 meter) boulder will impact our planet in the future is actually slightly higher than previously thought, but still nothing to lose sleep over.
“I’m not any more concerned about Bennu than I was before,” Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (Cneos) told reporters on a call Wednesday. “The impact probability remains small.”
That probability is about 1 in 1,750, or 0.06%, between now and the year 2300, and we can rule out any chance of impact between today and 2135. That’s the year Bennu will come closer to Earth than the moon in September.