Scientists are on alert after NASA confirmed there was a chance an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building could crash into Earth.
The asteroid is named Bennu, after the ancient Egyptian bird god, and has long been on the space agency’s radar as they try to stop it from crashing into our planet.
Bennu has been classified as one of the two “most dangerous known asteroids” and, despite an impact risk of 1 in 2,700, it could hit Earth with a force 24 times that of the largest nuclear bomb – 1,200 megatons. of energy.
The carbon-based asteroid is about 510 meters wide and experts predict it will be closest to Earth on September 24, 2182.
Although the asteroid is quite large, it is not as large as the six-mile-wide asteroid that almost completely wiped out the dinosaurs.
But NASA warns that Bennu “could cause continental devastation if it becomes a terrestrial impactor.”
A space mission launched thanks to NASA The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully collected a sample of Bennu so that scientists can better understand this potentially dangerous asteroid.
On Sunday (September 24), a capsule containing this material will be released by OSIRIS-REx and returned to Earth where it will be recovered and the material it contains will be studied.
Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Science Journal: “We have improved our knowledge of Bennu’s trajectory by a factor of 20.”
As scientists work to assess the risk this could pose, Farnocchia added: “In 2135, we will know for sure.”
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