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NASA Ups the Odds of a Giant Asteroid Called Bennu Hitting Earth

The odds of Bennu smashing into our planet have increased, but they're still pretty far out.

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This article was updated on August 13, 2021

The only thing more existential to our global economy than a pandemic-fueled recession and labor shortages would be a planet-sized space rock colliding head-on with Earth and making all mortal matters moot.

NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Don't panic: It likely won't occur. Though it is slightly more probable than previously imagined.

As part of a collaborative effort between NASA, the University of Arizona and Lockheed Martin, a spacecraft named OSIRIS-REx has spent two years observing an enormous asteroid dubbed Bennu. OSIRIS even collected a sample from the behemoth's carbon-rich surface. The end result? Whereas scientists previously pegged the odds of Bennu — which was selected from a pageant of sorts of nearly 200 ominous asteroids — of crashing into Earth by 2200 at 1 in 2,700, the trajectory has shifted. There is now a 1-in-1,750 chance of Bennu making impact through the year 2300. In fact, if this apocalyptic event were to bear out, the study's authors have zeroed in on Sept. 24, 2182 as theoretical D-Day.

Related: This Is Why the Asteroid Psyche 16 Is Worth More Than the Entire Global Economy of Planet Earth

Don't actually despair. As one of the scientists told reporters, per CNBC, "We shouldn't be worried about it too much.... Overall, the situation has improved."

As for that sample they collected, it won't descend back to our turf until September 24, 2023, so humanity's brightest minds have precisely 159 years from that point to ensure that's the last we see of it.