In an ominous forecast for our distant descendants, NASA scientists predict a colossal asteroid could collide with Earth in the year 2182, potentially wreaking havoc on a scale comparable to the devastation of Texas. The asteroid, known as Bennu, is classified as a Near-Earth Object, and has been vigilantly monitored by astronomers since its initial detection in 1999. Over the course of two decades, our planet has had three close encounters with Bennu, each encounter serving as a stark reminder of the asteroid’s potential threat.
Scientists have recently unveiled a chilling scenario in which Bennu, during its anticipated flyby on September 25, 2135, might pass through a “gravitational keyhole” that could set it on a catastrophic collision course with Earth. According to a research paper authored by the OSIRIS-REx science team, the chances of Bennu impacting our planet on September 24, 2182, stands at 1 in 2,700. To put the potential devastation into perspective, if Bennu were to hit Earth, it would release energy equivalent to 22 atomic bombs at the point of impact.
NASA Predicts Potential Asteroid Impact in 2182
In a revelation that could have profound implications for future generations, NASA has warned that a colossal asteroid might collide with Earth in the year 2182. Termed a Near-Earth Object, the asteroid Bennu could wreak havoc on our planet, potentially devastating an area equivalent to Texas.
Bennu: A Threat From Space
First discovered by astronomers in 1999, Bennu has been under constant monitoring by the space agency’s scientists to track its trajectory. Since its discovery, Earth has experienced three close encounters with Bennu, with the asteroid passing by in 1999, 2005, and 2011. However, a recent research paper presents a worrying scenario. It predicts that Bennu will once again fly by Earth on September 25, 2135, and during this close encounter, there’s a possibility it may pass through a "gravitational keyhole". This could set it on a collision path with our planet 159 years later.
The Odds and the Impact
The research paper, authored by the OSIRIS-REx science team, estimates the odds of Bennu impacting Earth on September 24, 2182, at 1 in 2,700. If the asteroid were to collide with our planet, the impact would unleash energy equivalent to approximately 22 atomic bombs. However, this would still be significantly less than the asteroid believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, which was estimated to be around six miles wide.
Insight into Bennu
Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluyesi recently spoke to ABC News about Bennu, revealing that scientists would soon have samples of the asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx team successfully landed a craft on Bennu in 2020 and collected 2 pounds of rock and dirt samples. These samples are expected to land in Utah this Sunday, marking the end of a nearly seven-year mission. "This is pure untainted material revealing early solar system secrets. A longshot discovery would be finding biological molecules or even precursor molecules for life," Oluyesi added.
While the prospect of an asteroid collision sounds alarming, it’s crucial to remember that the chances of such an event are relatively slim. The real value lies in the asteroid samples that are set to return to Earth. These samples could unlock secrets of our early solar system and might even hint at the precursors for life. The diligent monitoring and study of space objects like Bennu are vital not only for planetary defense but also for enriching our understanding of the universe.