Why NASA is chasing this asteroid?
Florida: NASA is sending a spacecraft to chase down a dark, potentially dangerous asteroid called Bennu and bring the samples back to the Earth.
Bennu is one of the most dangerous space rocks, as it could one day collide with Earth. Every six years, it passes so close to Earth due to which NASA considers it potentially hazardous asteroid.
But before it threatens human extinction, Bennu could guide us in our understanding of how our planet formed and how life came to evolve on Earth.
At 4.5 billion years old, Bennu is considered a relic from the ancient solar system holding pristine samples unchanged since our own planet’s birth.
The mission will take seven years, from Thursday night’s planned liftoff from Cape Canaveral till the return of the asteroid samples in 2023, and cover an incredible 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) through space.
NASA’s robotic asteroid hunter, Osiris-Rex, is designed to scoop up pebbles and rock the size of gravel — anywhere from one to four or even five handfuls in a single swipe.
Osiris-Rex – named partly after the Egyptian god of the underworld who sowed the seeds of regeneration. Initially it will race through space to catch up with the asteroid for two-years and then orbit it for another two years taking detailed photographs.
The lessons NASA learns could help refine the technology that can redirect asteroids on a collision course with our planet.
There’s a small chance – one in 2700 – that Bennu may collide with the Earth, if it’s not steered off course by the sun’s rays.
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