Scientists have revealed the exact date an asteroid could smash into the earth with the force of 22 atomic bombs.
The asteroid, Bennu, passes our planet every six years but it has been predicted that Earth could come into contact with it on September 24, 2182.
Despite the collision course being a long way off, NASA is working on plans to divert Bennu and are in the “final leg” of the mission.
Rich Burns, project manager for OSIRIS-REx at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, told the Sunday Telegraph: “We are now in the final leg of this seven-year journey, and it feels very much like the last few miles of a marathon, with a confluence of emotions like pride and joy coexisting with a determined focus to complete the race well.”
Bennu is about a third of a mile wide – half the size of the one that supposedly made dinosaurs extinct – meaning although it will cause devastation for 600 miles from the crash site, it is not big enough to cause a worldwide extinction.
The odds that Bennu will even hit earth in 2182 are one in 2,700.
There is a one in 1,750 chance Bennu will hit earth by 2300.
Seven years ago, the American space agency sent a spacecraft to collect samples from the asteroid with the craft due to return this week, exactly 159 years before the crash.
Nicola Fox, associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: “Pristine material from asteroid Bennu will help shed light on the formation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago and perhaps even on how life on Earth began.”
The spacecraft returning with samples will enter the atmosphere at nearly 28,000mph, reaching temperatures double that of lava.
It will release a parachute to slow it down for landing in Utah, USA.