Science

No, You Received’t See an ‘Apocalypse Asteroid’ within the Sky on Valentine’s Day – House.com

No, You Received’t See an ‘Apocalypse Asteroid’ within the Sky on Valentine’s Day – House.com
No, You Received’t See an 'Apocalypse Asteroid' within the Sky on Valentine's Day - House.com - within, valentine, received, house, asteroid, apocalypse

The south polar area of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, photographed by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe on Dec. 17, 2018. OSIRIS-REx entered orbit round Bennu two weeks later.

Credit score: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona

Regardless of what you will have heard, the Valentine’s Day sky will not present a glimpse of our impending doom. (Until you are a star-crossed lover, after all.)

The English tabloid Categorical ran a narrative right this moment (Feb. 11) with the headline “NASA warn ‘APOCALYPSE asteroid’ Bennu WILL seem within the sky this Valentine’s Day.”

The piece claimed that the 1,640-foot-wide (500 meters) asteroid Bennu — “a doomsday asteroid which has a excessive chance of impacting Earth in 100 years time” — will likely be “seen to the bare eye” on the evening of Feb. 14, barely to the fitting of Mars. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)]

That is solely mistaken. To start with, Bennu shouldn’t be an “apocalypse asteroid,” and NASA by no means labeled it such. (Company scientists aren’t identified for his or her hyperbolic and florid language.) The house rock is classed as “doubtlessly hazardous,” however that is a broad designation that applies to many asteroids of enough measurement whose orbits convey them comparatively near Earth.

This is NASA’s description of the near-term influence threat from Bennu: 

“Asteroid consultants on the Heart for Close to-Earth Object Research (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, challenge that Bennu will come shut sufficient to Earth over the subsequent century to pose a 1 in 2,700 probability of impacting it between 2175 and 2196. Put one other approach, these odds imply there’s a 99.963 % probability the asteroid will miss the Earth. Even so, astronomers wish to know precisely the place Bennu is positioned always.”

No, You Received’t See an 'Apocalypse Asteroid' within the Sky on Valentine's Day - House.com - within, valentine, received, house, asteroid, apocalypse

Mars will shine a couple of fist’s width away from the asteroid Bennu on Feb. 14, 2019. Bennu shouldn’t be seen to the bare eye, nonetheless; telescopes are required to identify it.

Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Even when Bennu did hit Earth, the harm could be removed from apocalyptic. Such an influence could be devastating on an area scale, to make sure. However scientists estimate that asteroids must be at the very least 0.6 miles (1 km) extensive — about twice Bennu’s diameter — to trigger a world disaster. 

Then there’s the visibility angle. Categorical could have gotten this bit from NASA’s February 2019 skywatching information, which did observe that Bennu will likely be near Mars within the Feb. 14 evening sky — only a fist’s-width to the fitting of the Purple Planet, in truth. However the NASA piece said that Bennu “is just too faint to see with no telescope.”

NASA highlighted Bennu right here largely as a result of the asteroid is the goal of the company’s OSIRIS-REx sample-return mission. OSIRIS-REx entered orbit across the house rock on Dec. 31, setting a file for the smallest object ever circled by a spacecraft.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to snag a pattern of Bennu materials in mid-2020. If all goes in response to plan, these items will come all the way down to Earth in a particular return capsule in September 2023. Scientists around the globe will then sift by means of the filth and rubble, looking for clues concerning the photo voltaic system’s early days and the function that carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu could have performed in delivering life’s constructing blocks to Earth.

“So on the 14th, give a bit of wave to Bennu — and OSIRIS-Rex when you’re at it,” NASA officers wrote within the February skywatching information.

Mike Wall’s e book concerning the seek for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Comply with him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Comply with us @Spacedotcom or Fb. Initially revealed on House.com. 

Share: