Asteroid Bennu might hit Earth on 2182
9 September 2022
Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1999, is considered potentially hazardous. Since its discovery, this asteroid has been extensively tracked by ground-based optical astronomical observations.
Using data from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, we now have a better understanding of the movement of this near-Earth asteroid until the year 2300. This study has reduced uncertainties about the asteroid’s future orbit. It has also improved our ability to predict the impact probabilities and orbits of other asteroids.
NASA’s planetary defense mission is to detect and monitor asteroids and comets that may approach Earth and pose a hazard,” said Kelly Fast, program manager for the Near-Earth Object Observation Program at NASA Headquarters (Washington, D.C.). We conduct ongoing astronomical surveys to discover unknown objects and collect data to improve their orbital models. The OSIRIS-REx mission provides an extraordinary opportunity to improve and validate these models, approaching Earth more than 100 years from now. It will help to predict Bennu’s position
In 2135, an asteroid makes a great approach to the Earth. At that point, however, there is no danger. During the process, scientists require to comprehend Bennu’s exact orbit. This will help predict how the asteroid will orbit the sun and collide with Earth due to Earth’s gravity.
This time, scientists used NASA’s Deep Space Network and advanced computer models to reduce the uncertainty in Bennu’s orbit. They then calculated Bennu’s impact probability through the year 2300. The results showed that the probability of the asteroid Bennu impacting the Earth is as slight as 1 in 1750 (0.057%).
They also found that the most likely impact date is September 24, 2182, with a probability of 1 in 2700 (about 0.037%).
Davide Farnocchia, research leader at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), said, “The OSIRIS-REx data gives us more accurate information, allowing us to test the limits of our models and calculate Bennu’s future orbit to 2135 with a very high degree of confidence. This is the first time we have modeled an asteroid’s orbit with precision.”
To evaluate where the asteroid will be during its 2135 approach and whether it is likely to pass through a gravitational keyhole, scientists evaluated several types of small forces that could affect the asteroid. The results showed that even small forces could significantly alter the asteroid’s orbit. Thus, the asteroid may pass through the keyhole or miss it altogether.