NASA Probe Snaps Photos of “Doomsday Rock” Predicted to Hit Earth Next Century
There’s plenty of terrifying doomsday prophecies on the internet, from the Blood Moon to that disturbing Google Translate Glitch that claims to know how the world ends.
Still, despite resembling the plot of Deep Impact, the “Doomsday Space Rock” is a threat that’s actually backed by science.
Also known as Asteroid Bennu, the Doomsday Space Rock is 500 metres long and is predicted to crash to Earth during the 22nd century.
So credible is the threat, that two years NASA sent the OSIRIS-REx space probe to study the asteroid to see just how perilous it really is.
The spacecraft is now approaching Bennu, and has sent back the most detailed images of the space rock captured so far.
Described as “super-resolution” images, the pictures were created by combining eight seperate images of the asteroid.
Artist’s impression of ORISIS-RExAs part of its mission, the ORISIS-REx probe will also take a sample of the Doomsday Rock and bring it back to Earth. It is believed Bennu may contain the building blocks of life, so scientists will be able to see if asteroids carried vital chemicals to Earth that sparked life on our planet.
The tests will also mean scientists can better understand Bennu, and hopefully prevent a catastophe on a global scale – if the asteroid were to collide with the planet, it would release more energy than all the nuclear weapons to ever have existed.
For example, the impact would be equivalent to 1,200 megatons, 80,000 times more than the energy released by the Hiroshima bomb in 1945.
Bennu has a 1 in 2,700 chance of hiiting Earth between 2175 and 2199, and although the crater left behind would be two miles wide, humankind would most likely survive.
In 2016, NASA Osiris-Rex principal investigator Dante Lauretta said: “We’re not anywhere near that kind of energy for an impact.”
Nevertheless, NASA’s “Planetary Defense Team” plan to use a specially-designed spaceship to move the Doomsday Rock on a new course and prevent it from smashing into the planet at all.
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