NASA researchers stated Wednesday that there is increasing likelihood that asteroid Bennu will hit Earth. However, even with that likelihood, chances still remain slim of actual contact.
The scientists predicted that the asteroid will come close to striking Earth in 2135. The trajectory of the asteroid is predicted up until that year, the study said. However, the study also provided scenarios between the years 2175 to 2196 in which there could be “several possible impacts.” There is a “cumulative impact probability” of 00037%, according to the study.
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Researchers at NASA used precision-tracking data from their Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft to obtain a better comprehension of the asteroid Bennu through the year 2300, NASA stated. The asteroid itself is potentially hazardous, according to the data.
The study will allow researchers to narrow any uncertainties regarding the asteroid’s projection and future orbit. Such data will be beneficial insofar that it will improve impact probabilities of this and future asteroids, according to the study. (RELATED: REPORT: Three Asteroids Set To Closely Pass Earth On Christmas Day)
“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,” Kelly Fast, program manager for the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said. “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.”
It is important that scientists comprehend Bennu’s exact trajectory so that they can predict the impact Earth’s gravity will have, if any, on the asteroid’s path around the Sun, NASA said.