An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building might hit the earth. However, located over 100 million miles from Earth, the asteroid, named Bennu, will hit the earth, if at all, in the next century or two. So while whoever’s reading this article now will be all dead by that time – as will their kids – the slight chance that it might hit earth is causing some concerns among scientists. Discovered first in 1999, asteroid Bennu has been classified as a potentially hazardous object. Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.
According to New York Times, at a news conference on Wednesday (August 11), NASA scientists said there was a 1-in-1,750 chance that Bennu, which is a bit wider than the Empire State Building is tall, could collide with Earth between now and 2300. That is actually slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1 in 2,700 over a shorter period, between now and 2200, reported NYT.
The acorn-shaped body formed in the early days of our solar system, could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, scientists say. A NASA spacecraft, named OSIRIS-REx, has spent two years near Bennu.The spacecraft used its robotic arm to collect a sample from the surface of the asteroid that will help researchers determine the future trajectory of Bennu. Bennu is about 1,650 feet (500 meters) wide. The rocks and dust collected by OSIRIS-REx are reportedly scheduled to return to Earth on September 24, 2023.
While chances are slim of the asteroid hitting the earth, what will happen if Bennu actually slam into Earth? Well, no it would not mean the end of life as we know it, but its likely to create a crater roughly 10 to 20 times the size of the asteroid, said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defence officer. However, the area of devastation would be much bigger: as much as 100 times the size of the crater.