NASA Predicts HUGE Asteroid Could Smash Into Earth Sooner Than Expected

In a startling revelation, NASA scientists have predicted the potential collision of a massive asteroid with Earth in the not so distant future. The predicted collision would potentially take place in the year 2182. The asteroid in question, named Bennu, has been closely monitored by the space agency since its discovery in 1999. With three close encounters already recorded, the chances of Bennu passing through a “gravitational keyhole” during a close fly-by in 2135 have raised concerns about the potential devastation it could cause 159 years from now.

The Discovery of Bennu

Bennu, classified as a near-Earth object, was first detected by NASA in 1999. Since then, scientists have been tracking its orbit, which brings it close to our planet approximately every six years. This monitoring has provided valuable insights into the asteroid’s behavior and the potential risks associated with its trajectory.

Close Encounters with Bennu

Over the past two decades, Bennu has had three close encounters with Earth in 1999, 2005, and 2011. These encounters allowed scientists to refine their understanding of the asteroid’s path and assess the likelihood of a future collision. However, it was during the most recent encounter that concerns about Bennu’s potential impact were amplified.

The Gravitational Keyhole

On September 25, 2135, Bennu is expected to make another close fly-by past Earth. However, scientists have identified a small probability that the asteroid could pass through a “gravitational keyhole” during this encounter. This keyhole is a narrow region in space where the gravitational forces of Earth could alter Bennu’s trajectory, putting it on a collision course with our planet in 2182.

Assessing the Risk

To evaluate the risk of a collision, the OSIRIS-REx science team conducted an extensive study. Their research concluded that there is a 1 in 2,700 chance, or 0.037%, of Bennu impacting Earth on September 24, 2182. While the odds may seem low, the potential consequences of such an impact cannot be ignored.

The Devastating Impact

Bennu is estimated to be about a third of a mile wide, making it a significant threat if it were to collide with Earth. The impact would ravage an area the size of Texas and release an energy equivalent to approximately 22 atomic bombs. While this would be a substantial event, it pales in comparison to the asteroid believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, which was approximately 6 miles wide.

OSIRIS-REx Mission and Sample Collection

In an effort to gather more information about Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft embarked on a mission to study the asteroid up close. In 2020, the spacecraft successfully landed on Bennu’s surface, collecting about 2 pounds of rock and dirt samples. These samples are expected to provide valuable insights into the composition and history of the asteroid.

The Return to Earth

After collecting the samples, OSIRIS-REx is set to return to Earth, with the capsule expected to crash-land in Utah on Sunday. The completion of this seven-year mission marks a significant milestone for NASA and will undoubtedly enhance our understanding of the solar system’s origins. Scientists are hopeful that the samples retrieved from Bennu will reveal early solar system secrets and possibly even provide clues about the existence of biological or precursor molecules for life.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here