The Extinction-Level Asteroid That Could Kill Us All in 2175 - Atlas Obscura
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The Extinction-Level Asteroid That Could Kill Us All in 2175

Meet 101955 Bennu.

An artist’s concept of a spacecraft landing on 101955 Bennu, with Earth in the distance. (Photo: Public domain)

There’s no reason to be alarmed, but scientists say a 1,500-foot-wide asteroid might slam into Earth in 2175, potentially killing us all. 

The asteroid, named 101955 Bennu, has been orbiting the Sun for some time now, completely circling it every six years. But scientists recently told CTV News that at its current trajectory, it would have a one-in-2,700 chance of hitting Earth in 2175, an impact that wouldn’t be dissimilar to how the dinosaurs died 66 million years ago. 

“These are what we call extinction-level objects,” Paul Delaney, an astrophysics and astronomy professor, told CTV. “If they were to come in contact with us, you’d have the same sort of scenario as the dinosaurs all over again.”

And even if one-in-2,700—or around a 0.04 percent chance—doesn’t sound like much, Delaney says a lot can change between now and 2175, meaning that it could get much more likely to happen or, of course, chart a different path and skip us entirely. 

And even if a collision course with Bennu does seem inevitable, by then we might have a way to stop it. NASA is launching a spacecraft headed towards Bennu in September, with the goal of landing on it, collecting samples, and returning that information to Earth. The more we know, scientists say, the better we can conceive ways to potentially halt it. 

So don’t fret just yet. Your descendants, in all likelihood, might be just fine.