A lot of fuss has been made over the past few weeks about Bennu, a giant asteroid that has a 2000 to 1 chance of crashing into the Earth in a little over a hundred years of time.
It was recently revealed that the rogue space rock 101955 Bennu, which is larger than the Empire State Building, could collide with our planet in 2135. The news spread like a wildfire all over leaving many people and cosmologists in the state of panic.
The general press has made a big deal out of the fact that the asteroid is larger than the Empire State Building (which apparently is a measurement tool for giant space rocks now), and could, if we’re very unlucky, make a significant dent in our planet when it finally arrives.
Many news reports have also inexplicably drawn the conclusion that there’s nothing that humanity can do to Bennu’s oncoming way of destruction, which is a peculiar thing to believe, considering that many organizations around the world are actively involved in drawing up asteroid defense plans that involve giant lasers and nuclear missiles.
Dr Michael Moreau, a scientist for Nasa’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which is sending a probe to study the rock, said a spacecraft could be sent to paint Bennu to divert it. This sounds a little like a mission borne of impatience considering that Bennu will eventually get a lot closer to Earth either way, but there’s a lot that can be learned about the space rock now that will feel like old news once Benny arrives.
Dr Moreau said: ‘Even just painting the surface a different colour on one half would change the thermal properties and change its orbit.’
Bennu is a potentially hazardous object discovered in 1999 that measures a staggering 492 metres (1,614 feet) in diameter according to Nasa estimates.
There is a small chance, around 1 in 2,700 odds, that Bennu will strike Earth in 2135 based on its current orbital path, and some scientists have suggested hitting it with a nuclear weapon to avoid a devastating collision.