The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft acronym stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. “Security” means that scientists are trying to assess if asteroid Bennu is a threat to crash into the Earth during a series of close passes in the 2180-2250 time frame.
What’s at Stake
OSIRIS-REx mission logo the payload fairing. Taken at the Kennedy Space Center Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility high bay. Photo credit: Bill Jelen / We Report Space
Bennu would cause significant damage to people and buildings within 30 miles of impact. In a 2016 article, Dr. Dante Lauretta estimated a Bennu strike this way: If Bennu impacts Earth people within 30 miles will be severely affected. The impact crater would be 2.4 miles wide and 1.2 miles deep. Over 50 feet of ejected materials would bury people as far as 3 miles away. The air blast would arrive with a maximum wind velocity of 3,720 MPH. Even steel-framed buildings will be distorted and likely collapse. People 30 miles from the impact would experience an air blast of 156 MPH. Wood frame buildings could collapse. Windows would be blown out. Everything would be covered with a half-inch of dust. Even 300 miles from the impact ...