Data gathered from a NASA spacecraft's visit to the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu is thought to be useful for future generations to keep a close eye on the large space rock as it passes near Earth in the 22nd century. The researchers used information from the Osiris-Rex mission, which spent more than two years orbiting, studying, and even sampling Bennu to get a better idea of its future path through the inner solar system.
They found that the 1.700 feet (518 meters) wide rock is very unlikely to affect our planet in the future, actually slightly higher than previously thought, but still not dangerous. "I'm no more concerned about Bennu than I used to be," Davide Farnocchia of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (Cneos) told reporters Wednesday. “The probability of impact remains small.”
This probability is approximately 2300 in 1,750 or 1% between today and 0,06, and we can ignore any probability of impact between today and 2135. This is the year Bennu will be closer to Earth than the moon in September.
Farnocchia explained that there was no threat of collision during this close pass, but prior to Osiris-Rex, there was some significant uncertainty about how certain effects, such as our planet's gravity, could change Bennu's path, perhaps making a later impact more likely.
The research team used the Osiris-Rex data to look at everything from the possible impact of the spacecraft itself – the models say it didn't change the asteroid's path – to the tiny force the sun's heat could exert on a small body. The Yarkovsky Effect it's called that.
"The impact on Bennu is equivalent to the weight of three grapes constantly moving across the asteroid," explains Steve Chesley, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Small, yes, but important in determining Bennu's chances of future impact over the coming decades and centuries."
Farnocchia, Chesley, and several other colleagues also cited a study on Bennu's future travels, published in the latest issue of the journal Icarus.
We can now say with confidence that there is nothing to worry about until 2135, and probably nothing to worry about until at least 2300, but you can bet that in the coming years, researchers will be looking closely at the asteroid's travel plans for September 2182.
Specifically, September 24, 2182, is the single most important date in Bennu's itinerary because he has a 0.04% chance of impacting Earth that day. Another way to look at it is that the probability of not hitting us is 99.96. “We shouldn't worry too much about this,” Farnocchia repeats. “We have time to continue watching the asteroid.” Really, but in the unlikely event of CNET and the absence of the internet in 2182, let's get a copy of the work to make its way into every apocalypse-proof bunker around the world.
This type of research will continue.
📩 18/09/2023 12:19