NASA Upped the Chance of Asteroid Bennu Slamming Into Earth – Putting the Odds in Perspective

Asteroid Bennu Impact Hazard Animation

Using NASA’s Deep Space Network and state-of-the-art computer models, scientists were able to significantly shrink uncertainties in Bennu’s orbit, determining its total impact probability through the year 2300 is about 1 in 1,750 (or 0.057%). The researchers were also able to identify September 24, 2182, as the most significant single date in terms of a potential impact, with an impact probability of 1 in 2,700 (or about 0.037%). Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Like Hitting a Bullseye With Your Eyes Closed

Two statisticians put into perspective the chances of asteroid Bennu striking Earth in the next 300 years.

Even Harry Stamper would probably like these odds.

Recently NASA updated its forecast of the chances that the asteroid Bennu, one of the two most hazardous known objects in our solar system, will hit Earth in the next 300 years. New calculations put the odds at 1 in 1,750, a figure slightly higher than previously thought.

The space agency, which has been tracking the building-sized rock since it was discovered in 1999, revised its prediction based on new tracking data.

Even with the small shift in odds, it seems likely we won’t face the kind of scenario featured that in the 1998 science-fiction disaster film “Armageddon” when Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, and his team had to try to blow up a huge asteroid that was on an extinction-making collision course with the Earth.

Asteroid Bennu Mosaic OSIRIS-REx

This mosaic of Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

(In an unrelated development, NASA plans to launch a mission in November to see whether a spacecraft could hit a sizeable space rock and change its trajectory just in case it ever needs to.)

This begs the question of just how good should we feel about our odds? We put that question to Lucas B. Janson and Morgane Austern, both assistant professors of statistics.

They compared Bennu’s chances of hitting Earth to the approximate likelihood of:

  • Flipping a coin and having the first 11 attempts all land heads.
  • Any four random people sharing a birthday in the same month (the odds of this are 1 in 1,750 exactly).
  • Throwing a dart at a dartboard with your eyes closed and hitting a bullseye.
  • Winning the state’s VaxMillions lottery on two separate days if every eligible adult resident is entered and a new drawing is held every second.

Bottom line? Janson, an affiliate in computer science, says that if he were a betting man, he would put his money on our being just fine. Then again, he points out, if he is wrong, “Paying up would be the least of my worries.”

61 Comments on "NASA Upped the Chance of Asteroid Bennu Slamming Into Earth – Putting the Odds in Perspective"

  1. 2080 anything who reading anything on this page 1.Is going to be alive to worry like children & their if this,if that, if anything & 2. Most importantly knows in a positive sense that Earth is not going to have a deterrent against in coming objects & will just hang around & take it? This is the reason why anyone with any brains understands the Federal government is not the answer to solve our problems.

  2. The best way to avoid a future impact is to mine Bennu to nothingness. It is in an accessible orbit, as shown by the probe we sent to it and returned a sample from. Once we examine the sample and the close up data from the probe, we can start planning mining operations.

  3. … oh my God, there we go again…

  4. A better question is how many friends does Bennu have? If it’s all by itself, no big deal. If there are 1200 other little asteroids with similar likelihoods of impact, it’s nearly a coin flip (49.6%) that the earth will get a new big hole.

  5. At work, a couple of years ago, my friend Eric wanted to show a couple of young Engineers just how hard it is to win lotto by demonstrating how the odds compared to the chances of guessing coin toss results correctly.
    He tossed and I guessed, alternating between heads and tails basically at random.
    After 10 correct guesses, which astounded us all, he said this is getting silly and we stopped the demo’.
    Would I have guessed the eleventh toss correctly? The odds were still 50% of course.
    So Lucas and Morgane, going on your advice above, I now personally believe the odds of an impact are one in two. 🙂

  6. So with an earth population of 7.9 billion and worldwide covid deaths at 4.55 million, giving odds of dying from covid at 1 in 1736 (0.058%), what has all the fuss been about?

    • The smarter Andy | September 15, 2021 at 3:57 am | Reply

      lol, dying from covid is a 1 in 1736 chance PER PERSON, and as you said 4.5 million people have died. the chance of the asteroid hitting earth is 1 in 1750, and if it hits, it will propably not kill a single person. You are saying that the (rising) number of 4.5 million deaths is the same as a 1 in 1750 chance of an asteroid hitting the earth? please think before you post

      • I think you have a skewed vision of death. You have one life, it can end in only one way, COVID or Asteroid, the odds are the same for each. I expect you are taking some action to not die from COVID, are you taking a similar action to not die from Bennu?

        • The odds of dying from an impact by Bennu for anybody alive today is literally zero. If it hits it wont do so for 160 years. If it does hit earth, the odds that it will kill any one person is pretty small especially since the impact zone will be known for months ahead of time and people can easily get the hell out of the way.

          So yeah, COVID is infinitely more likely to kill you than Bennu, and even if you were alive in 2182 the odds of it actually killing you would be closer to a billion to one if it wasn’t for the part where you would declare it a hoax and move into the impact zone…

  7. Fail.

    The computed odds neglect all the other similar objects. Sure, Beenu can be ignored, if you try. Hard. What about all the other stuff? Is closing our eyes and whistling an effective response? How about we develop a gravity tug and grab those asteroids one by one and steer them? Is someone else supposed to do it? Who? God? Does anyone with any sense really believe in god? As in, plan to bet the future on it?

  8. I think it would be great if it hits earth. The great reset. Humans are disgusting so something needs to stop the cancer (us)

  9. According to the animation, looks like it’ll hit the south pacific ocean. China’s gone…woohoo and prob California which is fine because CA sux anyways!

  10. Anything to keep the people scared.

  11. But what if we just moved earth out of the way, ya know?

  12. We’ll get hit by one they ain’t seen yet. Probably a smaller one – by 2027

  13. I hope Bennu lands on everyone wearing a sweaty dirty mask (besides my mom of course).
    [✓]no virus
    [✓]no vaccine
    [✓]no worries from FL.usa

    Oh…
    Please hit Biden whilst selling our children’s future labor value to China.(while he is in China blowing chi…again.)

    #nocommies
    #nofags

  14. Bradley Clevinger | September 15, 2021 at 1:47 pm | Reply

    Hell no let that thing slam into China and abliterate the CCP once and for all so the Chinese people along with Hong Kong can enjoy peace and quiet with freedom along with Biden and Harris. F*ck you Biden

  15. Umm lol so the coin flip hadn’t tried but going to, I’m kinda confident I can beat the odds lmao, the birthday ha me my son my daughter my adopted daughter my MIL and wife’s MIL all have bdays in may Soo don’t count on us to fix this math lmao
    The dart thing not only have I done as a party trick but I’ve done it holding the tine of the dart repetitive times I was also very bored and deployed with nothing to do but read guard dirt and play darts
    The last is ehh ok got us that fing impossible no improbable but people have won multiple times back to back this kinda puts all that on Shakey ground lmao
    I’m just saying either I’m a bad example or lmao someone should have used better statistics because it kinda makes it sound scarier nevermind well all be dead of old age by then but meh lmao

  16. A National news Network said that where I Live 5735 People had died from Covid.We only have 35000 in the County, when I read this I laughed out loud.

  17. BRING IT ON.

  18. Just send Bruce Willis and Ben Afleck to nuke it

  19. About a month ago an amature filmed a comet flying by with its trail clearly visible. How is it that the authorities didn’t expect or anounce it? What about the one in Russia that landed few years ago? No one saw that coming.

  20. Anyone afraid of death has an issue with this. Death is just another part of life. The soul and your three mind and conciousness are eternal.

  21. Lol. Go hide in your basement chicken littles or henny pennys.

    Lol. I think some people here wish for an ELE to escape their own cowardice of suck starting a Glock or living.

    Just think. We flourish in the light and heat of star that could wipe any evidence humans ever existed out with 8 minutes of notice. A GRB from some distant super nova could cook the planet. Aliens could suddenly appear and beam us all up for food.lol

    The likelihood of dying from what you know and see is far less likely than from what you don’t know and can’t see. Sleep well; or should I say Bock bock bock?

  22. Down with racism | September 15, 2021 at 9:46 pm | Reply

    Ide like to see it hit all the stupid racist people that post hate messages like #nocommies #faggots now that an astroid with a purpose.

  23. People have way too much time on their hands if they’re worried about this crap. If a building size Rock hit the planet Earth it wouldn’t matter so just kick your ass goodbye and stop worrying about this stuff. Also reading some of these comments I cannot believe that people are taking a scientific article and turning it into a political pissing contest. Find a hobby people….geez

  24. William Foxcroft | September 15, 2021 at 10:50 pm | Reply

    Don’t worry by 2080 there will be that much space junk around earth it won’t get through

  25. THIS IS THE END OF THIS WORLD. (EARTH)! I TRULY BELIEVE THAT (JESUS) IS NEAR. TIME TO GET OUR LIVES IN ORDER. I WANT SALVATION. I CHOOSE TO SERVE THE LORD MY GOD.

  26. What about the moon is it possible to calculate where the moon’s location would be? Can the moon be a key item to it?

  27. You are all worried about an asteroid 200 years from now when the big concern should be us killing the world if we dont change our way of life. There is only 35% of rainforest left and if we dont change in 200 years human kind will cease to exist….

  28. If you support that albino ding dong,you must be a ding dong too!To all you great Patriots.

  29. By the time it’s going to hit. The Earth will be to dam hot to live here anymore. I am so tired of being hot and breathing smoke everyday. There wont be anyplace to burn if it hits calfornia anyways.

  30. I love how some people already found a way to make a ball of rock, flying through space, political. Morons… Anyway. The likelihood of this object may be small, but those odds are a lot better than one might think. Even if this isn’t the one, I have a gut feeling that one of these days, we might get hit and not even see it coming.

  31. I belive there’s a bigger risk of humans not surviving from the lack of food,deseases,and the stockpile of nuclear weapons by that time.But since future wars will be fought by robots and perhaps
    humans will be turned into robots, the lack of food and deseases will not be a problem.
    So if it does collide with earth and humans are still around,
    maybe it will teach some to start appreciating life a little more,become less
    selfish and don’t belive everything they see on social media.

  32. If the asteroid were to hit, there would be zero deaths… Because we’re already all dead from covid, no worries. 😂

  33. So many anti-science bros in thr comments. How the hell did you guys get from asteroid to “muh personal freedoms not to wear a mask!”?

    Seems like masks are living rent free in your heads… get some help.

  34. Also… it should be noted that experts have stated the asteroid is not big enough to pose an existential threat to our planet. It would devastate a local area (if it hit), but not destroy a country or something like that.

    Also also… we should be worrying more about climate change right now… you know… the real threat to life as we know it in earth that was ignored by previous generations for decades when they had every opportunity to address the issue because they were lazy and greedy. Seriously… I find if funny that older generations love to talk about how “lazy” the current generation is… but there is historical evidence of them ignoring a problem and deciding to just let the future worry about it instead of doing the hard work of addressing the issue themselves… aka being lazy…

  35. gotta love that “In an unrelated development”

  36. It’s not rocket science to know, this is never going to happen!!!
    ✋🤣

  37. That is very Importen

  38. Dan you are incomprehensible.
    So your opinion on the federal government is null.

  39. I have never seen so many highly educated, well spoken people gathered in one place in my life. Congratulations SciTechDaily comments section, you’ve made Einstein so proud!

  40. 1 in 87,576,433…..

    “So you’re saying there’s a chance”

  41. We all die painfully and slow rather old age or natural or etc. When we are unable to move that process will be painful and slow maybe a nuke or the astroid could allow us not to experience that.

  42. I am sure the Earth will get hit one way or another some year or another. On the other hand a flip of a coin for Coronavirus or an asteroid you can die 5 minutes from now from any leading cause I think a person should be worried about their health and this virus if the rock is on a trajectory to hit the Earth there’s not a thing on this planet that can stop something going 38,000 miles an hour or deflect it do you really think they would let you know that if the world knew that they be Anarchy anyway that’s just my thought if it’s coming it’s coming and I don’t think we can do anything about it

  43. Mr Gerard Devanny | September 17, 2021 at 6:14 am | Reply

    Is there a Starbucks on it?
    And 2, if not, I want the franchise.
    I suppose a pub with Guinness would be nice.

  44. This planet needs an enema Anyhow. What will the population be by then? There’s going to be hell on earth anyways. Let Bennu put an end to it.

  45. I was reading through the comments and just wanted to say alot of you people have some serious anger issues and need some help seeing as you clearly state that you’d be happy to see the asteroid hit certain countries or people. Its not a joke and those people won’t even be here by then it’ll be our children or grand children so what your saying is that you hope It’ll hit one of Them? Very sick go get some help and this is coming from a mother’s perspective

  46. To the dude from Florida..the chance of dying from covid are higher than being hit by an asteroid..quit calling people commies. Quit your anti vaxing tirade..its getting tiresome..a wv girl

  47. Only a semi-literate, hateful Trumpecile would turn this into a little cry-baby, bitch-ass ” F*ck you Biden!!”, and other such childish, irrelevant idiocy.
    Leave to the unwitting, de facto corporate shills to be this inexplicably stupid.
    It’s simply a report from a finding that deals with an issue that’s discussed by SCIENCE fairly often.
    These half-witted (if that) Trump lovers actually believe that Trump or Republicans give the slightest crap about these buffoons, other than taking their vote AND MONEY to enact legislation and tax codes that HARM these same imbeciles, and their families.
    Hate and fear… that’s all these pathetic, Trumpecile clowns live for…

  48. The ignorance of all you putrid Gray matter dead heads is amazing. Talking about an asteroid that if it does hit when you won’t even be living by then. Let the people of nasa of that time worry about it.

  49. since humans won’t stop multiplying and killing the animals air water ext… why are they so worried about a space rock?

  50. Mike Tyson threw 3 darts blind folded and 2 of the 3 darts hit 🎯 bullseye

  51. Come on NASA and all you rich people jest going to space .. because .. we still have a planet to take care of.. stop wasting money and do something to protect this one. I would start building a Defence system to help with the whatever chance that a Huge f ing rock from space crashes into your home or Amazon HQ God forbid
    .. and what then …stop bring selfish… You jest didn’t get rich … You did it on the backs of Hourly warehouse workers… .

  52. The simplest thing to do would be…… Stop worrying and get on with life, we are talking 300 years down the line. By then different technologies and new theories about astroids will exist. Those wishing death upon another country makes you worse than the men in suits ruining the economy bunch of sick twisted individuals.

  53. Better Question, has anyone seen my pants?

  54. Well if that is the case we better get Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck out of retirement and save the world from Armageddon II. So if my children lived till 80 years from now I take the youngest, 12 years old , that 68 years away , 2089 , and her kids live to 80 years old as well , that is 160 years away that 2 generation away . There saying 300 years away it might happen so this may happen in roughly 4 generation away , like my great , great , great great grandparents in my past , they would be living in Ireland and Scotland way before they came to Australia in the 1840’s.

  55. The comments by many that no one will likely be killed if it hits are ridiculous. It is almost half a km wide. 1km is large enough to cause global disaster and .3 km large enough to cause tsunamis over a wide range of cost lines and destroy countries. The idea warning will suffice to prevent deaths is also ridiculous based on the 40% who always believe what they want and have ignored warnings about hurricanes, global warming, and pandemics.

  56. Gustavo Guajardo | September 18, 2021 at 11:36 pm | Reply

    Probably,?? Not convinced smh

  57. Gregory Kitchens | September 19, 2021 at 12:17 am | Reply

    My good sir, you are incorrect. The odds are 50%. It will hit earth, or it will not. 🙂

  58. You all are so entertaining!!
    Please, Bennue… do not disappoint. Use your education and time like its worth idk? Platinum or gold.

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