Asteroid Bennu’s Chances of Hitting Earth Slightly IncreasedNew calculations based on data from asteroid probe Osiris Rex refine the data and raise the chances by a slight amount — enough for good science fiction
For those who enjoy worry: Due to improved measuring technology, researchers are reporting a slightly increased chance of asteroid Bennu hitting Earth in the by 2300: Specifically, there is one chance in 2700 of Bennu hitting us on September 24, 2182 (0.037%):
Along with an asteroid called 1950 DA, Bennu ranks as the most hazardous known asteroid in the Solar System. Its orbital trajectory and period of around 1.2 years means that there are multiple close approaches to Earth in the coming centuries that are near enough for a possible impact.Michelle Starr, “This Giant, Hazardous Asteroid Almost Certainly Won’t Hit Us, Probably, NASA Says” at ScienceAlert (August 12, 2021)
Here’s a tour of our possible dreaded visitor courtesy asteroid probe Osiris Rex:
The folks at Space.com aren’t terribly worried:
Scientists’ models of asteroid trajectories always include some degree of uncertainty, since a multitude of forces tug at a space rock as it rattles around the inner solar system. That uncertainty remains even in the new and improved models of Bennu’s future path, but with the OSIRIS-REx observations, scientists were able to dramatically reduce their uncertainty about Bennu’s fate…
However, despite the scientists’ best efforts, predicting Bennu’s course after 2135 is still tricky. In September of that year, Bennu will swing past Earth — not close enough that there’s any risk of an impact, but certainly close enough that Earth’s gravity could nudge the asteroid a bit on its path. How precisely that dance plays out will shape Bennu’s trajectory over the next decades and centuries.Meghan Bartels, “Scientists fine-tune odds of asteroid Bennu hitting Earth through 2300 with NASA probe’s help” at Space.com (August 11, 2021)
A paper discussing the Osiris Rex’s findings is open access.
NASA has catalogued 26,000 near-Earth asteroids so far. An asteroid hit is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and many other types of life forms 66 million years ago. This is an attempt to guess the impact:
Maybe the possibility of an asteroid hit will generate more post-asteroid apocalypse sci-fi. Meanwhile, there is this one:
An asteroid lingers near Earth and devours time (13:23 min) Or, at any rate, it devours our perception of time, as one man discovers in “Flyby.” As the asteroid Chrono-7 hazes Earth, a man wakes up in the morning to find that he is living in his future, one he had never imagined.
You may also wish to read: Could huge chunks of asteroid gold wreck our economy? 16 Psyche’s gold illustrates how AI affects jobs. Not the way many think…