Published Date : Mar 20, 2018
Asteroid Bennu, estimated to be sizably bigger than the Empire State Building, traverses past the Earth every six years or so. Bennu was then named after an ancient Egyptian mythological bird, in a naming contest won by a North Carolina third grader named Michael Puzio. Thankfully Bennu is neither big enough nor heavy enough to put an end to life on the planet.
But astronomers have now warned there is a slim chance the 500m wide asteroid poses a threat to humanity. Sometime the day before, scientists say, there is a small chance that an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building will smack into Earth, destroying a lot of living things on the planet. Although the risk is slightly less, Bennu is reported to have been circling around the sun at the speed of 63,000 mph and is at a comfortable distance of 54 million miles from the Earth.
NASA is planning to launch a nuclear spacecraft named Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) that would shunt or blow up threatening space rocks. Preparing itself to protect life on Earth from a potential asteroid attack, NASA has developed this eight-tonne spacecraft that would be capable of deflecting a huge space rock, in case it happens to hit planet Earth, IANS said in its report on Friday.
Earth has been hit by asteroids with much regularity but most of them were too minute to bring about major destruction and many fell in scantly populated areas causing minimal damage. According to the report, it is said that the Near-Earth Object Studies centre in NASA recorded 73 asteroids that have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting planet Earth. The asteroid's impact with Earth would carry power three times that of “all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history”, according to one leading scientist.