CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Scientists have fine-tuned the path of the asteroid Bennu and say the odds of it smacking into Earth are higher than previously thought but still quite low.
NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is headed back to Earth after collecting samples from the large rubble pile of an asteroid.
“We shouldn’t be worried about it too much,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist with NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who served as the study’s lead author.
While hanging out at Bennu, the spacecraft collected enough data to help scientists better predict the asteroid's orbital path for the next 200 years. The samples are expected to be back in 2023.
Their findings published Wednesday should also help in charting the course of other asteroids and give Earth a better fighting chance if and when another hazardous space rock heads our way.