Scientists in National Aeronautic And Space Administration (NASA) is all set to launch a spacecraft to an asteroid, which they fear would hit the Earth surface one day. The $1 Billion mission will reach the asteroid Bennu in 2018 to save our planet from this catastrophe.
Bennu was discovered in 1999 and is predicted to be bigger than the Empire State building. Traveling at a speed of 63,000 miles per hour it is said to pass between the Earth and moon in 2135. To collect information from this once life-giving planet, the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx will be launched in September 2016.
The asteroid Bennu traveling at an average speed of 63,000 mph crosses the Earth’s orbit every six years. In 2135 it would cross the distance of 2,90,000 kilometers to pass between Earth and the moon and after 40 years it will crash the Earth surface.
In its seven-year mission, OSRIS-REx will collect rock samples and understand how to divert the route of Bennu. This mission will give scientists enough time to study the asteroid so that it can save Earth from this crash.
NASA scientists predict that the 500-meter wide Bennu can impact the planet similar to 3 billion tons of explosives. The US agency understands the seriousness of the matter that is why it is doing everything in its power to alter the orbit of asteroids to change the collision course.
At the same time, scientists also want to determine which part of the asteroid contains the most biological samples.
What is interesting about this 4 billion asteroid is that in the earlier times it was known to bring new elements and water to Earth. These elements have formed the foundation to how life may have emerged on Earth. But now the same life-giving asteroid may bring the life to an end on Earth.
Talking about the gravity of the situation, Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science at Arizona University said, “The collision is so dreadful that it may cause immense suffering and death. We estimate that the chance of impact between 2175 and 2196 is about 1 in 2,700.”
The spacecraft comes with one of the most sophisticated suites in space exploration history. So this will help to probe deeper secrets of the Bennu to understand its size, mass, and composition.
Before launching the spacecraft on September 8, scientists will have to identify the perfect spot for collecting samples. By the year 2023, it will thrust back into Earth in the region of Utah.