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The top-secret information that is stored in Asteroid Bennu4 min read

August 27, 2021 3 min read


The top-secret information that is stored in Asteroid Bennu4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Asteroids can give us an insight into our origins. Or maybe even a scare. But could we really experience another extinction like the famous prehistoric dinosaur extinction, this time with the asteroid Bennu?

A depiction of Asteroids hitting the Earth and causing the extinction of the Dinosaurs. Image: The New York Times

What is Bennu?

US Pentagon-sized asteroid to fly close to Earth in August - The Jerusalem  Post
An artistic depiction of Asteroid Bennu. iImage: The Jerusalem Post
OSIRIS-REx TAGs Surface of Asteroid Bennu | NASA

In 1999, NASA discovered this nearly 5 billion year old asteroid they dubbed ‘Bennu.’ Feeling that they could learn some more about Earth’s origins than the Big Bang Theory, they decided to build a spacecraft that would visit Bennu and take a rock sample. They will analyze the rock sample once the spacecraft returned and release their findings. They sent a spacecraft named OSIRIS-Rex to Bennu and it successfully collected a sample in 2020. Even though the spacecraft hasn’t returned to Earth, we have lots of hope for its findings. 

Why is Bennu in the news now?

Scientists think there is a chance that Bennu might hit Earth. It might be very far away, but scientists have calculated that the trajectory Bennu is on intersects with Earth’s orbit. But it is highly unlikely that this event will occur. 

Bennu Size Comparison - YouTube

Scientists have classified Bennu as a near Earth object, or NEO. This means that that object, whether a comet or asteroid, will pass at any point in time within 50 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit. Therefore, we can conclude that with a lot of distance and a very precise cross past Earth’s orbit would cause Bennu to crash into Earth. 

Asteroid Day June 30 and the Big Bang in Siberia 1908 - World Today News

This is not to say that Bennu will not come close to Earth. It will come 160,000 kilometers away from Earth, very close for a near-Earth object in around 2135. This is about half of the distance from the Earth to the moon. But, Bennu is very small compared to the moon, meaning it will only be a tiny speck in the sky. The exact chances are almost 1/1750 that Bennu will strike Earth before 2300, still pretty high for what is usually a very rare occurrence. 

Will Bennu kill us all?

Family Guy Reaction GIF

Fortunately, no. So breathe a sigh of relief. It might create a crater 10-20 times its size. But, Bennu could destroy a lot more. It could destroy nearly a million kilometers of area. Still pretty scary. 

Nonetheless, most experts say Bennu is not to worry about and we can go about our normal lives. 

dance image GIF

Should people be worried?

Will there be another Big Bang like the start of the universe?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below

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