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Monday, March 26, 2018

Is Bennu the new menace for Earth?

Por Kvothe

Bennu, an asteroid with the size of the Empire State building, is currently dashing towards the planet Earth, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the United States of America is getting ready considering it has a slim chance of actually colliding with us, reported The Washington Post.

Brent W. Barbee, NASA´s own aerospace engineer, said to The Post that they are working on design studies because just like the rest of humanity “we don't want to die at the hands of a catastrophic fireball of annihilation”. This potential event would not be happening until 2135 and the American daily newspaper informs that the odds of this massive rock hitting the planet are 1 in 2,700. Which is why NASA is already developing the contingency plan.

How does the emergency plan work? Well, avoiding the catastrophe includes sending a nuclear device to meet the asteroid, should it get too close for comfort. The nine-ton "bulk impactor" (as it has been called) is intended to push the menace out of our planet´s orbit.

The Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response is the way the scientists in NASA have labeled the plan.

This is not the first time the planet Earth is peppered with bits of space fragments, but normally these remnants break up as they enter atmosphere. Asteroid Bennu, on the other hand, is not likely to follow this fate considering its size and other characteristics. Luckily, worst case scenario, people can rest assured that their sons and grandsons are going to be well thanks to the hard work and foresight of NASA´s team.

NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office searches the skies for comets and asteroids that pose a credible threat to the planet, conjuring up ideas as to how to deal with them should the situation require it.

To meet Bennu, scientists and engineers have already sent out the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a journey that has taken two years so far. Once it reaches the asteroid, it “will map Bennu and establish the composition of the asteroid, including the distribution of the elements, minerals and organic materials,” as well as stealthily scraping off a 2.1-ounce sample to bring back to NASA laboratories.

On Thursday, September 22, 2135, asteroid Bennu will either hit or preferably just swing by the planet Earth. Until then, since the contingency plan is already being developed, there is not much to really worry about folks.