What can we learn from Bennu?
Natto chase in space and the target was pretty small in this game of things this month, a NASA spacecraft finally reached a lumpy diamond shaped rock it's an asteroid called Benue, and it took the spacecraft two years to reach it. That's a trip of more than two billion kilometers. But what really interested me in reading about? This story was that Ben is classified as a potentially hazardous object. That means it could hit us, but don't worry NAS anytime soon to find out more spoke to Astro physicist, Katie MAC, who's a columnist for various science publications. She's also an assistant professor of physics at North Carolina State university. Well, there's an advantage with veneer, which is that its orbit brings reasonably close to earth. So it's one of the many near earth asteroids that Nassar have been tracking for a very long time. So we're able to see it when it comes close, which it does periodically and were especi-. Keeping an eye on this one big has there's a chance of it actually coming a little too closer in the next couple of hundred years. I was going to ask him about that. Because one of these at resonated, the most with me is the fact that it's considered what's called a potentially hazardous near earth object. I in many of these potentially hazardous objects out there will potentially hazardous as one of these terms that is a technical term that is sometimes misinterpreted a little bit. It means that there's some kind of calculable chance that's not ridiculously tiny that it could impact the earth, those kinds of chances are usually much less than one thousand and in this case, that's also true. Even for the next couple hundred years the chances really really pretty small, but you know, it's the kind of thing where we have some uncertainty in the measurements. There are uncertainties in. How the orbits of these things could change as they maybe have different interactions with. With the solar wind or different interactions with other small bodies. So the the kinds of things we really want to keep an eye on if there's really any chance at all that it could come to where the earth is. So even steroid like new did richer what sort of damage could that cools? Well, if I haven't made his is pretty thing for announced Royd in terms of potential hazards. So I think that when I looked this up it was listed as something like civilization affecting. So it's the kind of thing where it could it could be it could be really difficult for the region. It's an potentially for a larger region around it, it could have some kinds of global effects. But the important thing here is that we know about this one a really really far in advance of when it could possibly hit. So we're going to checking out what it's made of that's going to help us saved. If it's the kind of asteroid where it's more or less solid, or if it's the kind of thing that's kind of what you'd call a rebel a rebel pile. Where you might use different kinds of approaches if you needed to change its orbit for those different situations, and we do have some interesting possibilities for changing the orbit of potentially hazardous objects. There have been discussions of things like a gravitational tractor where you get a very heavy spacecrafts in you just fly near the object for awhile until the gravity of that spacecraft lunges at just a little bit far enough that it can change the orbit in that work too. Few get to the object with quite a lot of lead time. And then there are other possibilities like impact is or changing a reflectiveness of one side of the objects to change how it interacts with pressure from the lights in the sun, basically. And then there are things there discussions of things like some point people talk about a making sort of a giant bag or net of the that you could kind of tie around this an object and move it that way, and I'm not sure how big that would have to be. But these are things. That have been variously discussed for dealing with potentially hazardous object. So we have quite a lot of lead time. If it does turn out to be a problem, but the important thing right now is that we can get a really close look at it. And we can learn just about this population of asteroids in general, which might be useful. Even if this one turns out to be totally benign will learn something about the formation of the solar system. We might learn something about the population of other asteroids and just get a better handle for, you know, our environment space because it's being described as a time captial dating back to the beginning of our solar system. How long does Royds last? What's the lots? I mean, they, you know, a lot of these things were formed in the sort of proto planetary discs. So the dust and gas that was surrounding the sun as the sun was forming. And as that process was going on, you know, parts of the disc lapse into planets in than a lot of smaller objects were form, some of these are what we now see us asteroids. So, you know, some of these things are just pieces of the disc of material that became the planets, and that was gathered around the sun. And so we can get sort of an idea of what that environment looked like by getting samples of asteroids. And that's the exciting thing about this mission of courses that we're going to get a really sizable sample of this asteroid and bring it back to earth. Katie MAC assistant, professor of physics at North Carolina State university.