Science & Tech

Scientists issue warning about asteroid heading to Earth with force of 24 atomic bombs

Scientists issue warning about asteroid heading to Earth with force of 24 atomic bombs
Asteroid Bennu Has A Chance Of Hitting Earth In The Future
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Scientists are on alert after NASA confirmed there is a chance an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building could come smashing into Earth.

The asteroid is named Bennu after the ancient Egyptian bird god and has been on the space agency’s radar for a long time as they try to prevent it from coming crashing into our planet.

Bennu has been categorised as one of the two “most hazardous known asteroids” and, despite the chance of impact standing at 1-in-2,700, it could strike the Earth with the force of 24 times that of the largest nuclear bomb – 1,200 megatons of energy.

The carbon-based asteroid is approximately 510 metres wide and experts predict that it will come closest to hitting Earth on September 24, 2182.

While the asteroid is quite sizeable, it is not quite as sizeable as the six-mile-wide asteroid which almost completely wiped out the dinosaurs.

But, NASA warns that Bennu “could cause continental devastation if it became an Earth impactor”.

A space mission launched using NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully taken a sample from Bennu in order for scientists to better understand the potentially dangerous asteroid.

On Sunday (24 September) a capsule of the material will be dropped by OSIRIS-REx and returned to Earth where it will be retrieved and the matter inside studied.

Davide Farnocchia of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory told the Science Journal: “We improved our knowledge of Bennu's trajectory by a factor of 20.”

As scientists work to investigate how much of a risk it could cause, Farnocchia added: “In 2135, we'll know for sure.”

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