Visualization depicting the 2135 Bennu-Earth flyby. Bennu’s orbit is represented in white. Earth’s orbit is represented in light blue.
On September 25, 2135, an asteroid called Bennu will make a close flyby of Earth. Our planet’s gravity will tweak Bennu’s path, making it a challenge to calculate its future trajectory. During the flyby, there is an extremely small chance that Bennu will pass through a “gravitational keyhole” – a region of space that would set it on just the right path to impact Earth, late in the 22nd century. Although it is difficult to determine the odds of this actually happening, new data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft have allowed scientists to better model how Bennu’s orbit will evolve over time, and to better calculate the probability of an impact. Now, a new paper from the OSIRIS-REx science team gives Bennu a 1:2700 (0.037%) chance of impacting Earth on September 24, 2182.
Visualization depicting the 2182 Bennu-Earth flyby. Bennu’s location in 2182 will vary depending on how the 2135 flyby occurs. Two representations of Bennu are depicted. The white dot represents an Earth-miss and the grey dot represents an extremely unlikely (1:2700 or 0.037% chance) Earth impact. Earth’s orbit is represented in light blue.