The 500-meter-long asteroid Bennu is approaching Earth. The potential for an effect is greater than originally assumed.
Specify It is very frightening: the gloomy object has a diameter of 500 meters, a mass of 60 million tons – it silently rushes through space towards Earth. that asteroid Named after the Egyptian god of the dead, it doesn’t make things any happier.
The celestial body frequently crosses the Earth’s orbit and gets uncomfortably close to our planet. Even the impact cannot be ruled out: on September 24, 2182, this scenario could become a reality. This is the result of recent analyzes of the asteroid that astronomers have been targeting for a long time. Because Bennu is considered one of the most dangerous asteroids ever. Although the probability of an impact is relatively low: the odds of Bennu hitting Earth by 2300 are 1:1750 – so the risk is greater than previously thought.
NASA has been observing the asteroid Bennu for a long time
Data for the new risk assessment was also provided by NASA’s Osiris Rex space probe. 2016 was the investigation of asteroids He was sent to take a closer look at Bennu and collect soil samples – first: As the first American rocket in space history, the “Osiris Rex” successfully sampled the asteroid in a complex maneuver that lasted several hours. In the meantime, the probe returned to Earth, in September 2023 it is expected to drop the sample above Earth, where it is scheduled to land safely in the US state of Utah using parachutes.
Asteroid to pass Earth: NASA has a special plan
Whether or not Bennu collides with Earth one day depends on how much its orbit is changed by the Earth itself. In the year 2135, the asteroid will get very close to us: the massive conical will be almost twice as close to the Earth as the Moon. Then the deciding factor is how Earth’s gravity affects the asteroid and whether it deviates from its orbit.
Asteroid, meteorite, comet: what are the differences?
- Celestial bodies differ mainly in size, composition and distance from the Sun.
- An asteroid is usually made of solid matter and contains little or no volatiles, which is why it has no tail.
- a comet It is largely composed of volatile substances such as water. Because the distance from the sun is large, the volatiles are frozen. As comets approach warmer regions, the ice melts and a typical comet tail emerges.
- Meteorites are the smallest things. They often arise from comet tail particles or when larger celestial bodies collide. If they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they can be considered a meteor or a falling star.
Other factors play a role in calculating Bennu’s orbit, such as gravitational interactions between the asteroid and the sun, solar wind pressure, and the influence of other planets and asteroids on Bennu. Scientists have already been able to more accurately predict the path of the asteroid – by the year 2182, it is likely that humanity will be able to more accurately determine the behavior of Bennu and can react accordingly.
The asteroid Bennu should not break under any circumstances
NASA is already looking for ways to defend Earth from Bennu. One way: collide with the asteroid and throw it out of its orbit. The US space agency, along with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), launched the HUMMER program. The symbolic acronym stands for the emergency response vehicle’s hypervelocity asteroid deceleration mission. Idea: A spacecraft weighing more than eight tons is heading towards the asteroid and is supposed to collide with it.
However, this is very risky, because Benno should not break under any circumstances. Otherwise, asteroid debris will accelerate through space in a completely uncontrollable and unpredictable way and still be dangerous – you might be able to do that Kessler syndrome Effects.
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Even if the probability is relatively low, asteroid impacts cannot be completely ruled out. We only had this experience a few years ago, when a 20-meter asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and caused massive damage. Meteor pieces destroyed buildings, thousands of panels were shattered, and hundreds of people were injured.
The asteroid collision caused massive damage a few years ago
Asteroids larger than 150 meters cause massive damage – and pieces as high as 500 meters like Bennu can cause massive disaster if they collide with them. For comparison: 15 million years ago an asteroid with a diameter of about 1.5 kilometers penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of more than 70,000 kilometers per hour. In the vicinity of the Swabian Alb, the celestial body crashed to the surface and left a crater with a diameter of 25 kilometers. The red hot material scattered within a radius of 1000 km and set everything on fire.
Bennu is said to provide clues to the early stage of the solar system
NASA chose Bennu not only because of the potential danger as a special target of investigation, but also because the ancient rock could provide clues to the origin of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Because asteroids are leftovers from that time.
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