NASA says an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building could hit Earth in the 2100s

Space agency NASA said that an asteroid named Bennu, which is as large as Empire State Building in New York could hit earth. However, this event is unlikely to happen till the 2100s.

But, the probability of Bennu hitting earth between now and 2300 is one in 1750, while the probability of an average asteroid with a 1-kilometer diameter hitting the earth is one in every twenty million years. Scientist Davide Farnocchiaa, who authored the study along with other 17 scientists, on the hazard assessment for near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu, told the New York Times that the probability of impact is low, to date.

The study tilted Ephemeris and hazard assessment for near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu based on OSIRIS-REx data tracked the asteroid’s trajectory. From the predicted trajectory of the asteroid relative to the earth’s revolution around the sun, the asteroid will come within 125,000 miles of the earth by the year 2135, which is about half the distance from the earth to the moon.

Scientists say that the exact distance is important here because the gravity of the Earth will ‘slingshot’ Bennu as it passes. They cited a phenomenon called ‘gravitational keyhole’ which could send Bennu in a particular trajectory due to which, it could intersect with the Earth 50 years after 2135. The eventful day could be 24th September 2182, but scientists say there is only a 0.037% chance that Bennu will strike the Earth. This value can fluctuate, as the trajectory of Earth orbiting the Sun also changes a bit due to solar activities.

Scientists have also assured that it will not lead to an extinction event, but the devastation could be enormous. Lindley Johnson, who works as a planetary defense officer at NASA, said that the size of the crater will be 10 to 20 times the size of the object. So, a half-kilometer-sized object is going to create a crater that’s at least 5 to 10 kilometers in diameter.

“But the area of impact will be as much as 100 times the size of the crater,” Lindsey added. NASA is also working on a project called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which aims to deflect an asteroid if it appears to collide with the Earth. The space agency will experiment with an asteroid called Didymos in 2022.



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