OSIRIS-REx The mission to save Earth from a giant asteroid in the 22nd Century
NASA is launching a mission to save the Earth from destruction, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth in the 22nd Century and we’re acting now to stop it.
The mission, OSIRIS-REx will involve sending a probe to Bennu, a huge near-Earth asteroid, to study it’s geography and geology, in August 2018.
The probe will be send into deep space to orbit the hazardous asteroid. During the mission, the probe will draw down to the surface of the 500m wide space rock and gather between 60 and and 400 grams of “gravel and soil”
The probe is due to return to Earth with the potentially planet saving information in 2023.
The asteroid is set to come very close to us, between the Earth and the moon, in 2135. That pass is likely to change its course, possibly putting it on a collision with Earth.
Bennu was discovered in 1999 and orbits the Sun every 6 years at a speed of over 100,000 kilometres an hour!
Being able to understand the rock will help future generations to stop it, if it is indeed a threat.
Besides potentially saving billions of people, and preventing the human race from the same fate as the dinosaurs, the mission will also help us understand the history of our solar system and ultimately, the Universe.
“We believe Bennu is a time capsule from the very beginnings of our solar system,” Dante Lauretta, a professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory told ABC
“So the sample can potentially hold answers to the most fundamental questions human beings ask, like ‘Where do we come from?'”
More from ABC on the OSIRIS-REx Mission:
Lauretta said that by the time that it would strike, we would likely have the technology to destroy Bennu, although he acknowledged that we don’t have that capacity right now. He mentioned “nukes” as a potential means to protect Earth from Bennu, as well as what he described as a “gravity tractor,” or a space craft that would disrupt Bennu’s gravitational pull and send it careening off course from Earth.
“I wish I could be around in 2135 to see what happens,” Lauretta said.
Lauretta, who started the OSIRIS-REx Mission in research form in 2004, said he’s feeling “anxious and proud” in the days preceding its takeoff. His team, which had as many as 450 full time employees, is now scaling down as the launch approaches.
“It’s a tense moment for all of us,” he said.