Bennu is one of the many Near-Earth Objects(NEOs) that NASA’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office tracks and monitor regularly. It was first discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team, funded by NASA. A nine-year-old boy Michael Puzio from North Carolina who won the ‘Name that Asteroid’ competition in 2013 named the Asteroid.

The origin of Bennu is not clearly known. Astronomers calculated that Bennu was formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached Bennu in late 2018, orbited the Astorid for two years and managed to grab some samples in 2020. The Spacecraft is on its way back to Earth.

Astronomers believe Asteroid was formed due to an impact between two or more asteroids. Bennu is roughly the size of the ‘Empire State’ building and full of holes. Astronomers think that Sunlight can affect Bennu’s trajectory, and it might fall be apart if it rotates near any planet as almost 40% of its volume is empty space.

There is a minimalist chance(1 in 2700) that the Bennu might hit the Earth at the end of the 23rd century, and even if it hits our planet, it would not be like the Chicxulub impact, which killed Dinosaurs, which happened 66 million ago. Still, it would emit energy over 1 billion tons of TNT.

Representational Image is not the real image of Asteroid Bennu, it is strictly for representational purposes only.
Image courtesy: PIXABAY


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