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NASA Eyes Trajectory of Asteroid Bennu

Credit: Unsplash

The roaming space rock has a 1 in 1,750 chance of hitting the Earth.

Asteroids pass by the Earth more frequently than you might think, but every time they do, they either miss us wholesale, or they’re so relatively small that they harmlessly burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Still, when it comes to the vast reaches of space, you can never be too careful, which is why NASA has been keeping a close eye on one particular asteroid that has a slightly higher chance of hitting us than its brethren.

The asteroid, codenamed “Bennu,” has been noted by NASA to have a trajectory that could potentially bring it into a collision with the Earth. Bear in mind, there are some major caveats to that “potentially.” Firstly, it’s not happening any time soon. Bennu is far enough away that it won’t even be near us until the year 2135. Even after that, based on its trajectory, it’s basically a toss-up as to when it could actually cross our path, landing somewhere between the year 2135 and the year 2300. It’s estimated that around that period, the 1,700-foot-wide Bennu will come closer to the Earth than our own moon, though there’s still plenty of clearance between Earth and the moon for it to slip through. All in all, the odds of Bennu actually colliding with the planet are roughly 1 in 1,750, or about 0.06%. That’s definitely higher than potentials of asteroids past, but still nothing especially worrisome.

“I’m not any more concerned about Bennu than I was before,” Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies told reporters last week. “The impact probability remains small.”

Even so, NASA remains committed to monitoring Bennu’s progress, as there are a myriad of potential factors that could alter those projections. Then again, if we’re lucky, by the year 2300 we’ll have asteroid-busting space lasers.