NASA Examinates the Bennu Asteroid Up-Close

If you remember the legendary movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis’ character landed on an asteroid with his team, then you will certainly love this news. NASA planned to examine the asteroid Bennu up-close, and it sent its OSIRIS-REx probe to get the job done. While the probe was sent in 2018 to the asteroid, now it successfully entered its orbit and began to scan the surface.

As things almost always don’t go as planned, especially when it comes to astronomy, NASA’s probe had a lot of trouble finding a suitable place for a touchdown. The space rock is scattered with space debris, way more than scientists expected.

Bring samples back to Earth

The goal is that NASA’s probe will grab a small chunk of the asteroid and take it back home to see exactly what the space rock is made of. However, we’ll have to wait until August for this to happen. It’s a pretty difficult maneuver, considering only that there is no such thing as real-time control. The distance between Earth and Bennu is too big. Scientists will have to send a single command to the probe and then hope that it will all go according to the plan.

Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid located in the Apollo group and having a diameter of 490 m. The space rock was discovered by the LINEAR Project over two decades ago, on 11 September 1999. Bennu is a potentially hazardous object that’s listed on the Sentry Risk Table. It has the second-highest cumulative rating on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale. There’s no need to worry that Bennu will hit Earth, although judging by its size, it would cause some significant damage to our planet. The asteroid has a cumulative 1-in-2,700 chance of colliding with Earth between 2175 and 2199.

The asteroid was named after Bennu, who was an Egyptian mythological figure. Bennu was the bird associated with the Sun, creation, and rebirth.


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