NASA ups the odds of Bennu asteroid hitting Earth
A NASA scientist said Wednesday that the likelihood of the Bennu asteroid hitting Earth within the next century or two has increased.
However, Davide Farnocchia stressed that Earthlings shouldn’t be too worried.
Scientists previously said that the odds that Bennu would strike the Earth into 2200 was 1 in 2,700, but those figures were adjusted to 1 in 1,750 into the year 2300, The Associated Press reported.
Farnocchia works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and told reporters that the Osiris-Rex spacecraft, which landed on Bennu in 2018 to collect samples, has given them a better idea of the asteroid’s future orbital path, according to the wire service.
The spacecraft is slated to arrive back to Earth in 2023.
“We shouldn’t be worried about it too much,” Farnocchia said, who was the lead author of the findings, which were published in the Icarus journal.
Scientists say that Bennu will get within close proximity of the planet by 2135.
Scientists said that the Earth’s gravity could affect Bennu’s orbit and create a collision with the planet in the next two centuries. However, they said that based on the data from Osiris-Rex spacecraft, the chances of gravity interfering with its trajectory are slimmer now.
Lindley Johnson, a planetary defense officer for NASA, predicted that if the Earth was struck by the asteroid, the amount of area destroyed would equal the asteroid’s size 100 fold, according to the AP.
If the asteroid hit the East Coast of the U.S., it “would pretty much devastate things up and down the coast,” Johnson added.