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OSIRIS-REx scientists refine Bennu’s future Earth impact possibilities

Using the orbital and gravity data compiled during OSIRIS-REx’s visit to the asteroid Bennu, scientists have refined its future orbits as well as the most likely moments it might impact the Earth.

In 2135, asteroid Bennu will make a close approach with Earth. Although the near-Earth object will not pose a danger to our planet at that time, scientists must understand Bennu’s exact trajectory during that encounter in order to predict how Earth’s gravity will alter the asteroid’s path around the Sun – and affect the hazard of Earth impact.

Using NASA’s Deep Space Network and state-of-the-art computer models, scientists were able to significantly shrink uncertainties in Bennu’s orbit, determining its total impact probability through the year 2300 is about 1 in 1,750 (or 0.057%). The researchers were also able to identify Sept. 24, 2182, as the most significant single date in terms of a potential impact, with an impact probability of 1 in 2,700 (or about 0.037%).

Although the chances of it hitting Earth are very low, Bennu remains one of the two most hazardous known asteroids in our solar system, along with another asteroid called 1950 DA.

This paper’s conclusions are confirming what had been found earlier in the mission, while OSIRIS-REx was still flying in formation with the asteroid. Nonetheless, it is essential to refine these numbers as precisely as possible, so this confirmation is excellent news.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Col Beausabre

    My understanding is that asteroids occupy inherently unstable orbits due to the number of unknown interactions which result in unpredictable modifications to their path. I’ve got a hunch my understanding is rather simplistic, could someone elaborate, please? Thank you

  • pawn

    Col Beausabre,

    It’s a fascinating field that has developed rather recently as an extension of celestial mechanics has led to the study of orbital resonances. Asteroids are somewhat trapped in their orbits and have formed “families” dependent on what and how they are trapped in an orbital resonance.

    Saturn is a giant working lab in the exploration of high order orbital phenomena.

    It gets even weirder when they start postulating the migrations of the planets during the formation of the solar system. Some theories suggest that Jupiter was formed near the Sun and migrated outwards to where it is now. A lot of wildly beautiful speculation.

  • Edward

    Col Beausabre,
    Keep in mind the Yarkovsky Effect:

    On the other hand, this may only add to your problems in understanding the unknown perturbations of an asteroid’s orbit.

    On the third hand (the gripping hand, for you Niven/Pournelle fans), how much do we need to worry about what happens should Bennu, a mere pile of loose rock, strike the Earth: (12 minutes, Scott Manley)

  • wayne


    “With Bruce Willis as your project manager and Michael Bay as the director, of course it’s possible to stop an asteroid hurtling towards earth by using massive explosives and a team of deep-core drillers!”

  • Pastafarian

    When I first read Edward’s comment above, instead of Yarkovsky, my pre-coffee brain saw Velikovsky.

    It was unsettling.

  • Wayne, one of my favorite quotes is at/around 1:27 in the clip … “Beggin’ your pardon, sir, but …”

    But is this happened today, we’d likely have a greater chance at deflection if we called SpaceX and put incentives in the contract to maximize deflection distance – and assure the prevention of another close approach in the future.

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