Asteroid 101955 Bennu and Risk of Impacting Earth
101955 Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid that is classified as a potentially hazardous object.
It is a carbonaceous asteroid, meaning that it is composed of organic material.
Bennu has a mean diameter of 490 meters (1,610 feet) and a mass of 7.8 × 10^10 kilograms.
Bennu was discovered on September 11, 1999, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project.
It was originally given the provisional designation 1999 RQ36.
Bennu is named after the Egyptian god of rebirth and resurrection.
Bennu orbits the Sun in a highly elliptical orbit that takes it between the orbits of Earth and Mars.
It passes close to Earth about every six years.
In 2016, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to visit Bennu.
The spacecraft arrived at Bennu in 2018 and spent two years studying the asteroid.
In October 2020, OSIRIS-REx collected a sample of Bennu’s surface material. The sample is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023.
Bennu is a valuable target for scientific study because it is a relatively primitive asteroid that has not been significantly altered by the effects of water or other planetary processes.
The sample collected by OSIRIS-Rex is expected to provide insights into the formation and early evolution of the solar system.
Potential impact on Earth
Bennu has a cumulative 1-in-1,750 chance of impacting Earth between 2178 and 2290. The greatest risk of impact is on September 24, 2182.
NASA is monitoring Bennu’s orbit to improve our understanding of the risk of impact.
The agency is also developing technologies to deflect asteroids that pose a threat to Earth.
Key facts about 101955 Bennu
Diameter: 490 meters (1,610 feet)
Mass: 7.8 × 10^10 kilograms
Orbit: Elliptical, between the orbits of Earth and Mars
Period: 437 days
Discovery date: September 11, 1999
Name: After the Egyptian god of rebirth and resurrection
Potential impact on Earth: 1-in-1,750 chance between 2178 and 2290