Professor of Astrophysics, Bertram Bitsch, from University College Cork (UCC), has stated that there is a one in 2,700 chance of Earth being impacted by an asteroid called Bennu. This space object, measuring less than 500 meters, could create a six-kilometer-wide crater and cause significant damage. However, this catastrophic event is estimated to occur in another 159 years, and there is still uncertainty about the likelihood of it happening.

Professor Bitsch’s comments come after the return of NASA’s satellite probe, Osiris-Rex, from its mission to collect a soil sample from Bennu. The successful recovery of 250 grams of soil from the asteroid provides valuable data for analysis. By understanding Bennu’s composition, researchers hope to gain insights into the origins of the universe.

While the probability of a collision with Earth is low, it is crucial to engage in long-term planning to be prepared for any potential threat. It is important to determine strategies to deflect or even destroy asteroids like Bennu if necessary. By studying the trajectory and gravitational influences on this space object, scientists can better understand the associated risks.

Although movies like “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” have popularized the notion of a doomsday scenario caused by an asteroid, it is essential to approach this topic with rationality and scientific analysis. While the threat of Bennu remains a remote possibility, it reminds us of the importance of continuous research and monitoring of near-Earth objects to ensure the safety of our planet in the future.

– The Echo
– Imperial College London ‘Earth impact’ programme

Asteroid: A small rocky object that orbits around the Sun, usually in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Gravitational encounters: Events in which gravitational forces from celestial bodies alter the course of an object, such as an asteroid, in space.