Neil DeGrasse Tyson: ‘Enough time’ to deflect earthbound asteroid

  • A NASA capsule delivered samples from the asteroid Bennu to be studied
  • Scientists say the asteroid could possibly hit the Earth in 2182
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Use this as a reason to develop a defense program"

(NewsNation) — Samples from a deep space asteroid were parachuted to Earth on a NASA spacecraft Sunday after a seven-year journey.

“I would have been happy with just a few grams, it got a whole kilogram, about half a pound of Bennu rock and dust,” said renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson joined “NewsNation Prime” to discuss the asteroid Bennu, which scientists have said could hit the Earth in 2182.

“It seems to me that 160 years in the future, that’s plenty long lead time to say, ‘hey, let’s use even though the chances are only one in about 3,000.’ Let’s use this as a reason to develop a defense program where we would deflect to the asteroids,” Tyson said in response to the potential collision.

“And by the way, no, you don’t want to blow it up, movies want to blow them up, but there are kinder, gentler ways you deflect it either ahead of us or behind us in its orbit crossing of Earth,” Tyson added.

In a flyby of Earth, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 63,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) out. The small capsule landed four hours later on a remote expanse of military land, as the mothership set off after another asteroid.

Scientists estimate the capsule holds at least a cup of rubble from the carbon-rich asteroid known as Bennu, but won’t know for sure until the container is opened in a day or two. Some spilled and floated away when the spacecraft scooped up too much material, which jammed the container’s lid during collection three years ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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