NASA working on plan to prevent OSIRIS-Rex's target asteroid from hitting Earth

(Source: NASA)
(Source: NASA)
Published: Mar. 22, 2018 at 10:49 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 at 1:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There's a small chance an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building could crash into Earth, according to NASA scientists.

The asteroid in question is Bennu, the same one that the University of Arizona's OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is headed to as part of a mission to collect data.

Carl Hergenrother, a lead astronomer on the mission, said the odds of the asteroid hitting Earth are 1 in 2,700. However, if it did happen, it would be sometime between 2175 through 2200.

But don't worry. NASA scientists say they're working on a plan to prevent the collision.

It's called Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response or HAMMER.

Hergenrother said the study allowed scientists to come up with possible solutions to different scenarios. He said discovering asteroids early is key to preventing destruction.

"One of their findings was that if you don't have a lot of lead time or it's a very large asteroid then you may have to resort to nuclear weapons to actually move or completely destroy the asteroid," he said.

OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled to arrive at Bennu in December.

The mission will allow NASA to learn more about the asteroid's composition, information they say is important if they need to prevent a collision.

To learn more about the OSIRIS-Rex Mission, click HERE.

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