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Life on the Asteroid Frontier

What Would Happen if Asteroid Bennu Were to Impact the Earth?

2 Aug 2016, 19:54 UTC
What Would Happen if Asteroid Bennu Were to Impact the Earth?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Yesterday, the media reported widely on the upcoming launch of OSIRIS-REx. While many of these reports were accurate and informative, a few of the headlines were a little misleading. For example:
NASA Spacecraft Set to Explore Giant Asteroid That Could Destroy Earth
Fortunately, as the news cycle progressed, these inaccuracies were corrected:
No, Asteroid Bennu Won’t Destroy Earth
I thought it would be useful to summarize the effects of a Bennu impact. The Minor Planet Center classifies Bennu as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid because it has a diameter larger than 150 m and a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of < 0.05 Astronomical Units (abbreviated AU and equal to the average distance between the Earth and Sun) with the Earth. Bennu has a mean diameter of 492 meters and its MOID is 0.003 AU. The MOID will steadily decrease resulting in a potential Earth impact during the later decades of the 22nd century. The tabulation of potential Earth impacts results in a cumulative impact probability of approximately 1 in 2700 sometime in the 2175– 2196 time frame.
I used the Impact Earth! calculator provided by Purdue University and Imperial College London to assess the results of a Bennu impact. For ...

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