An asteroid NASA’s been tracking for nearly 25 years could impact Earth in the future, a new report reveals.
First discovered in 1999, Bennu, the near-Earth asteroid, could possibly drift into the planet’s orbit and could hit the planet by September 2182, according to the OSIRIS-REx science team.
Bennu passes near Earth every six years and has had three close encounters with Earth in 1999, 2005, and 2011, experts said in the ScienceDirect study.
There is a 1 in 2,700, or 0.037% chance that Bennu could hit Earth by 2182, scientists said.
In October 2020, the OSIRIS-REx — an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer — briefly touched the surface of Bennu, collected a sample and then propelled off the asteroid.
The first asteroid sample collected in space from OSIRIS-REx lands on Earth on Sunday — crashing down in Utah.
Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluyesi told ABC News that OSIRIS-REx will change what people know about the origins of our solar system.
“This is pure untainted material revealing early solar system secrets. A longshot discovery would be finding biological molecules or even precursor molecules for life.”
It was the first mission of its kind for NASA.
If Bennu would hit Earth, it would release 1,200 megatons of energy, which is 24 times the energy of the most manmade nuclear weapon, according to IFLScience.
The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was as powerful as 10 billion atomic bombs, scientists revealed in 2019. Experts found evidence in massive chunks of rocks that the asteroid was strong enough to trigger wildfires, tsunamis and blast so much dust into the atmosphere that it blocked out the sun.
ABC News’ Catherine Thorbecke and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.
Daisy Hips is a science communicator who brings the wonders of the natural world to readers. Her articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to environmental conservation. Daisy is also an advocate for science education and enjoys stargazing in her spare time.