September 24, 2021


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NASA says asteroid Penn has a chance of hitting Earth by 2300

Released on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 10:31 AM.

The closest asteroid to Earth in 2135 will travel half the distance from our planet to the moon, NASA said Wednesday, adding that the chances of an impact later here will be 2300 and smaller.

According to the American Space Agency, Penn, discovered in 1999 and having a diameter of 500 meters, is one of only two known asteroids in our solar system. NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft spent two years in orbit around Penn, which returned to Earth in 2023, leaving samples collected during a few seconds of contact with Earth last May.

This mission made it possible to study the asteroid very closely and to significantly improve its future trajectory.

By 2300, scientists concluded that the chance of a collision with Earth was only 0.057%.

“In other words, it means that there is a 99.94% chance that Pennu will not be on an impact path,” David Fornoccia, a scientist at NASA’s nearby Earth Object Survey, told a news conference. “So no need to worry too much.”

Why are we not 100% sure?

On September 2135, Pennu will pass very close to Earth. This will provide an opportunity to cross the so-called “gravitational hole”: an area that, due to the gravitational influence of our planet, will slightly change the path of the asteroid, thus going into the path of future collision.

Prior to the Osiris-Rex mission, large “” keys “a kilometer or more may have been in Pennu’s path in 2135.

Thanks to the analyzes allowed by the Osiris-Rex study, scientists were able to exclude 24. There are the last two.

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According to them, the most likely date of impact would be 2182.

If that happens, the event will be catastrophic. “Typically, the size of a crater is 10 to 20 times the size of an object,” said Lindley Johnson of NASA’s Planetary Coordination Office. Or to the pen, a groove 5 to 10 km in diameter.

“But the destruction zone will be much larger than that, 100 times larger than the size of the abyss,” he said.

He said researchers know about the size of the pen and about 79% of asteroids close to Earth.

David Fornocia recalls: “The danger posed by pennus is actually smaller than the risk posed by similar quantities of substances we have never discovered.”