What Would Happen if Asteroid Bennu Were to Impact the Earth?

dslauretta

Yesterday, the media reported widely on the upcoming launch of OSIRIS-REx. While many of these reports were accurate and informative, a few of the headlines were a little misleading. For example:

NASA Spacecraft Set to Explore Giant Asteroid That Could Destroy Earth

Fortunately, as the news cycle progressed, these inaccuracies were corrected:

No, Asteroid Bennu Won’t Destroy Earth

I thought it would be useful to summarize the effects of a Bennu impact. The Minor Planet Center classifies Bennu as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid because it has a diameter larger than 150 m and a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of < 0.05 Astronomical Units (abbreviated AU and equal to the average distance between the Earth and Sun) with the Earth. Bennu has a mean diameter of 492 meters and its MOID is 0.003 AU. The MOID will steadily decrease resulting in a potential Earth impact during the later decades of…

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