A planetary scientist issued a serious warning regarding the most dangerous asteroid in space. According to the scientist, the asteroid has a strong chance of colliding with Earth in the next century.

Asteroid 1999 RQ36, commonly known as Bennu, was first detected by NASA in 1999. Based on the agency’s observations, the asteroid has an estimated diameter of 1,614 feet, making it one of the biggest asteroids that are known to approach Earth.

Due to the asteroid’s size and trajectory, it has been regarded as the most dangerous currently known asteroid.

In a previous study led by scientist Maria Eugenia Sansaturio, she and her colleagues noted that Bennu might hit Earth in 2182. According to the researchers, the asteroid’s chances of hitting Earth largely depend on the Yarkovsky effect.

This theory states that an asteroid’s spin and trajectory could change due to unbalanced thermal radiation caused by sunlight or other cosmic factors. If this happens, Bennu could move onto a path that would take it directly to Earth.

“The analysis of impact possibilities so far in the future is strongly dependent on the action of the Yarkovsky effect, which raises new challenges in the careful assessment of longer term impact hazards,” the researchers wrote in their study.

According to Sansaturio, since Earth has more than a hundred years before Bennu’s potential impact, space agencies have enough time to enact various plans to deflect the asteroid. The scientist noted that if the agencies plan to do something about the asteroid, it should be done before 2080 in order to give the massive space rock enough time to completely miss Earth.

“The consequences of this complex dynamic is not just the likelihood of a comparatively large impact, but also that a realistic procedure, or path deviation could only be made before the impact in 2080, and more easily, before 2060,” Sansaturio said, according to Express.

“If the object had been discovered on 2080, the deflection would require a technology that is not currently available,” she added. “This example suggests that impact monitoring, which up to date does not cover more than 90 or 100 years, may need to encompass more than one century.”

Asteroid Bennu is a time capsule, containing the raw ingredients of the solar system. Bennu has settled in a near-Earth orbit. Today, a NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is going to retrieve a sample to learn more about our Solar System’s history. OSIRIRS-REx is a NASA sample return mission to visit Asteroid Bennu. We plan to grab a piece of Bennu, because it’s a time capsule that can tell us about the origins of our planet and our entire solar system. NASA Goddard