New odds on asteroid Bennu
At a news conference on August 11, 2021, NASA scientists said there is a 1-in-1,750 chance that asteroid Bennu could collide with Earth between now and the year 2300. The greatest chance in the next 300 years will come on September 24, 2182. The estimates suggest a slightly greater chance than previously, but scientists say they are not worried. Planetary scientist Lindley Johnson of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said at Wednesday’s press briefing:
I don’t think we need to do anything about Bennu.
Still, Bennu and another asteroid known as (29075) 1950 DA remain the two most hazardous asteroids to Earth, as far as scientists know at this time. NASA was concerned enough about Bennu that it sent a spacecraft to the asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft rendezvoused with Bennu in late 2018 and touched down on the asteroid’s surface in late 2020, successfully collecting a sample.
The spacecraft learned, among other things, that Bennu is a very dark, and very ancient. It’s a bit wider than the Empire State Building in New York City is tall. A NASA statement said that, along with collecting a sample from the Bennu’s surface, the spacecraft provided ...