NASA unveils first analysis of world-ending asteroid Bennu that could crash into Earth in next 150 years
- NASA is set to share images of the samples collected from asteroid Bennu
- The samples were collected in 2020 and dropped to Earth in September
- READ MORE: NASA raises odds of asteroid Bennu slamming into Earth
NASA is set to share the first look at asteroid samples collected from Bennu – a world-ending space rock that could impact Earth in 2182.
The OSIRIS-REx mission collected rock and dust from the asteroid in 2020, and a capsule containing the precious cargo returned to Earth a little over two weeks ago, landing in the Utah desert.
Scientists are set to showcase the samples and a preliminary analysis today at 11 am ET from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The mission brought back about eight ounces of debris, which NASA believes holds building blocks from the dawn of our solar system and could provide clues to understanding how life formed on Earth.
The OSIRIS-REx mission collected rock and dust from the asteroid in 2020, and a capsule containing the precious cargo returned to Earth a little over two weeks ago, landing in the Utah desert
NASA chose to sample Bennu because it is believed to be rich in organic compounds.
Scientists think similar asteroids could have delivered organic building blocks to Earth and water through collisions billions of years ago.
Bennu’s orbit, which intersects that of our planet, also made the roundtrip journey easier than going to the Asteroid Belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter.
NASA researchers have so far been heartened by the discovery of ‘bonus particles,’ described as black dust and debris coating the sample collector.
Osiris-Rex, the mothership, rocketed away on the $1 billion mission in 2016.
It reached Bennu two years later and grabbed rubble from the small, roundish space rock in 2020 using a long stick vacuum.
Currently orbiting the sun 50 million miles (81 million kilometers) from Earth, Bennu is about one-third of a mile (one-half of a kilometer) across, roughly the size of the Empire State Building
Scientists are set to showcase the samples today at 11 am ET from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
OSIRIS REx collected the samples that are set to be seen by the world for the first time
When it returned, the spacecraft had logged four billion miles.
The capsule hit the atmosphere at 27,650 miles per hour (mph) after being released by the spacecraft at 6:42 am ET.
Currently orbiting the sun 50 million miles (81 million kilometers) from Earth, Bennu is about one-third of a mile (one-half of a kilometer) across, roughly the size of the Empire State Building.
The asteroid is also shaped like a spinning top and is believed to be the broken fragment of a much larger space rock.
READ MORE: Mysterious black dust found on asteroid sample that crashed to Earth
NASA was forced to halt work on the asteroid samples that crashed to Earth this week after scientists spotted mysterious black dust inside the canister.
Bennu is regarded as the most dangerous rock in the Solar System because its intersecting orbit with Earth gives it the highest chance of hitting the planet of any known space object.
NASA has long been studying the asteroid and revealed in 2021 that it has a 1-in-1,750 chance of smashing into our planet on the afternoon of September 24, 2182.
Even if the asteroid were to collide with our planet, it is nowhere near the size of the dino-killing, six-mile across space rock that hit the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago, as Bennu is less than a third of a mile wide.
Nonetheless, if Bennu were to impact Earth, it would be similar to an explosion of more than 1.1 billion tons of TNT.
Kelly Fast, program manager for the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in 2021: ‘NASA’s Planetary Defense mission is to find and monitor asteroids and comets that can come near Earth and may pose a hazard to our planet.
‘We carry out this endeavor through continuing astronomical surveys that collect data to discover previously unknown objects and refine our orbital models for them.
‘The OSIRIS-REx mission has provided an extraordinary opportunity to refine and test these models, helping us better predict where Bennu will be when it makes its close approach to Earth more than a century from now.’
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