Space

NASA plans to bombard Asteroid Bennu with nuclear bombs to avoid collision with Earth

Bennu was first observed by the scientists back in 1999 and since then it approaches our planet in every six years. It will again cross Earth in 2023. Scientists have estimated that its closest flyby will be in 2135 when it will have  0.037 percent (or 1-in-2,700) chance of striking the Earth

NASA will launch spacecraft to bring samples from asteroid: Here's why

The US space agency NASA has been doing a lot of research and analysis to find out a way for destructing the asteroids that pose a threat of colliding with Earth. A new report has revealed that NASA is planning to destroy one such potentially dangerous asteroid which has a 1 in 2,700 chance of colliding with Earth on September 21, 2135.

The name of the asteroid is Bennu and NASA wants to destroy it using nuclear bombs before it hits earth. Futurism reported that the chances of asteroid Bennu actually hitting Earth is very minimal but the US government wants is eager in neutralizing the threat. At present, Bennu is almost 54 miles million miles away from Earth and is orbiting the Sun. NASA has classified the massive 500 meter-wide Bennu asteroid as a near-Earth object (NEO) and the asteroid is listed as a “potential Earth Impactor”.

Space.com said that the asteroid is not that large to bring destruction on Earth. But NASA is quite serious about Bennu and its collision chances with Earth. It wants to make sure that the asteroid should get destroyed if it manages come too close to Earth. Therefore, it is planning to launch a project called Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER) which will destroy Bennu if it raises its chances of colliding with Earth. NAS will design a spacecraft that will work on this HAMMER mission and will deliver nukes to the asteroid if it comes very close to earth.

NASA will get support from the National Nuclear Security Administration and two Energy Department weapons lab to design and develop the spacecraft. If not destroying Bennu with nukes, NASA has also thought of other plans. It can also change the course of the asteroid by constantly bombarding it with Multiple impactors, as informed by Physicist David Dearborn from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The HAMMER mission is not a new report and the idea of it was first introduced in 2010 in the journal Acta Astronautica. There the scientists wrote, “The two realistic responses considered are the use of a spacecraft functioning as either a kinetic impactor or a nuclear explosive carrier to deflect the approaching NEO.” As of now, nothing is sure about the HAMMER mission and whether it will be launched or not. Currently, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is heading towards Bennu to collect samples from the asteroid and bring it back to earth for study.

Previously The TeCake reported,  in 2018, OSIRIS-REx will approach Bennu – which is the size of a small mountain – and begin an intricate dance with the asteroid, mapping and studying Bennu in preparation for sample collection. In July 2020, the spacecraft will perform a daring maneuver in which its 11-foot arm will reach out and perform a five-second “high-five” to stir up surface material, collecting at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of small rocks and dust in a sample return container. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023, when it will then be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for examination.

The OSIRIS-REx mission will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth and the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era.

“It’s satisfying to see the culmination of years of effort from this outstanding team,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We were able to deliver OSIRIS-REx on time and under budget to the launch site, and will soon do something that no other NASA spacecraft has done – bring back a sample from an asteroid.”

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The University of Arizona leads the science team and observation planning and processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the agency’s New Frontiers Program for its Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch and countdown management is the responsibility of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The B-type asteroid is also recognised as potentially dangerous as it is predicted that Bennu will hit earth sometimes in 22nd century when it passes between the moon and our planet. Once the asteroid will be studied by scientists, they will develop an impact mitigation mission.

Moreover, Bennu was first observed by the scientists back in 1999 and since then it approaches our planet in every six years. It will again cross Earth in 2023. Scientists have estimated that its closest flyby will be in 2135 when it will have  0.037 percent (or 1-in-2,700) chance of striking the Earth. Bennu measures 1,600 feet in diameter and moves at 63,000 miles per hour.

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Kanishk Singh

Kanishk Singh, co-founder, and editor-in-chief at The TeCake, has forayed in the Science and Space for over five years, he enjoys his stint as an editor of several local magazines. He has written several editorials and high-level documentations.

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