Nasa, Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR discussed on Short Wave

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You're listening to shortwave from npr madison here with npr. Science correspondent nell greenfieldboyce high. No hey mattie so. It is the final day for voting. Which will prove to be a very stressful day. We have decided to promptly leave earth and go to space gonna escape that easy because you know there is still voting in space astronauts. Get to vote on space. That's true escape. But today we are talking. Asteroids specifically an asteroid named benue. It's more than two hundred million miles away. It orbits the sun in about one point. Two earth years nasa spacecraft to the asteroid in twenty sixteen right right so it reached the asteroid in two thousand eighteen. and it's been surveying benue and in the last few weeks it's been undertaking the most critical part of its mission. And let me tell you. It has been a crazy few weeks. I have been covering the whole thing and it's just been fascinating to watch. Okay first things i know. I know the earth gets hit by little space rocks all the time as a single planetary life-form how worried we need to be about this asteroid. Well technically it is considered to be potentially dangerous asteroid. It's wider than the empire. State building is tall. It shapes sort of like a spinning top. It's all gray and bumpy. And here's what dante lauretta. The principal scientist for the nasa mission. Had to say about this whole danger thing our most recent calculations suggest that it has about one in twenty seven hundred chance of impacting the earth. The good news is such an impact would not occur for at least one hundred fifty years. I mean that's not no chance now. You know what i mean. No it's not nothing but you know. Scientists are aware of it. They've got plenty of time to deal with this if it looks like it's going to become a problem and actually understanding more about this kind of asteroid threat is one of the reasons they built a spacecraft and send it out there in my understanding is that nasa wanted to do more than just look at this asteroid right. The scientists wanted to get up close and personal. They wanted to grab some of it and bring it back to earth exactly and there are so many ways. This mission could have gone wrong. The researchers spent years planning it worrying that they wouldn't be able to nab enough the asteroid to get a decent sample but as it.

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