Today’s NASA picture is a little bit more ominous than our usual fare but the asteroid Bennu can’t help that the marketing team behind its debut decided on the nickname “apocalypse asteroid.”
As you might imagine, it gets that name because it is actually quite large: Big enough to destroy an entire city on Earth’s surface, to be exact.
And now we’re getting some upclose shots of what this metro ender looks like and they are spectacular.
Taken from less than half a mile above the surface of the asteroid, these pics captured by the OSIRIS-Rex probe show a rocky terrain surrounded by utter darkness. Measuring some 500 meters wide, Bennu also gets is “apocalypse” nickname because there is the smallest chance that it could hit the Earth at some point according to NASA.
The possibility is remote, but remote enough to be notable. But don’t worry – most of us won’t be here. It has a 1 in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth sometime between 2175 and 2199 according to Metro UK. If it did hit, it would unleash more energy than all of the nuclear weapons detonated and tested throughout human history.
NASA said of the picture, “This is the view from the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body…From the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit, half of Bennu is sunlit and half is in shadow. Bennu’s largest boulder can also be seen protruding from the southern hemisphere.”
NASA’s plan is to land the probe on Bennu in 2020 and then recover samples from its surface. These will then be returned to the Earth in what can only be called one of the most impressive feats of coordination ever.
Have some thoughts about Bennu? Leave them in the comments below.[Metro]