NASA to send spacecraft to probe asteroid that may destroy Earth
An asteroid that will pass by the earth, as it does every six years, has scientists deeply worried. So much so, that NASA has said that they are sending a probe team to the asteroid's surface to analyse the huge asteroid.
The reason behind the unease is the fear among the scientists that the asteroid may one day collide with the Earth, causing massive destruction. The space rock, called Bennu, crosses Earth's orbit once every six years and is set to pass between the moon and our planet in 2135. Bennu is around 500 metres in diameter at its equator and travels around the sun at 63,000mph.
According to Daily Mail report, the NASA spacecraft, OSRIS-REx, will be launched in September this year and is expected to reach the asteroid’s surface in 2018 after which it will there for around a year collecting rock samples and return to Earth in 2023.
This mission is led by University of Arizona and the launch is scheduled for September 8 at 7: 05 pm local time.
What makes the endeavour special is that it will be for the first time in history that a spacecraft would land on an asteroid and return to Earth with samples.
Nasa scientists are worried that Bennu can cause an impact similar to 3 billion tonnes of explosives, might get pulled by Earth’s gravity and change its orbit. Because of this, later in the century, Bennu can come crashing into Earth’s surface.
Professor of planetary science at Arizona University, Dante Lauretta, told Daily Mail that this collision may cause “immense suffering and death.”
As per the report, this mission will also be used for other purposes like study of building blocks of life by analyzing the minerals present beneath the Bennu's surface.