• The GCC Financial Forum 2019
NASA probe reaches destination

NASA probe reaches destination

NASA’s deep space explorer Osiris-Rex flew on Monday to within a dozen miles of its destination, a skyscraper-sized asteroid believed to hold organic compounds fundamental to life as well as the potential to collide with Earth in about 150 years. Launched in September 2016, Osiris-Rex embarked on NASA’s unprecedented seven-year mission to conduct a close-up survey of the asteroid Bennu, collect a sample from its surface and return that material to Earth for study. Bennu, a rocky mass roughly a third of a mile wide and shaped like a giant acorn, orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth and is thought to be rich in carbon-based organic molecules dating back to the earliest days of the solar system.

Water, another vital component to the evolution of life, may also be trapped in the asteroid’s minerals. Scientists believe that asteroids and comets crashing into early Earth delivered organic compounds and water that seeded the planet for life, and atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could help prove that theory. But there is another, more existential reason to study Bennu. Scientists estimate there is a one-in-2,700 chance of the asteroid slamming catastrophically into Earth 166 years from now. That probability ranks Bennu No. 2 on NASA’s catalogue of 72 near-Earth objects potentially capable of hitting the planet. Osiris-Rex will help scientists understand how heat radiated from the sun is gently steering Bennu on an increasingly menacing course through the solar system.

That solar energy is believed to be nudging the asteroid ever closer toward Earth’s path each time the asteroid makes its closest approach to our planet every six years. “By the time we collect the sample in 2020 we will have a much better idea of the probability that Bennu would impact Earth in the next 150 years,” mission spokeswoman Erin Morton said. Scientists have estimated that in 2135 Bennu could pass closer to Earth than the moon, which orbits at a distance of about 250,000 miles, and possibly come closer still some time between 2175 and 2195.

Osiris-Rex reached the “preliminary survey” phase of its mission on Monday, soaring to within 12 miles of the asteroid. The spacecraft will pass just 1.2 miles from Bennu in late December, where it will enter the object’s gravitational pull. From that stage, the spacecraft will begin gradually tightening its orbit around the asteroid, spiralling to within just 6 feet of its surface. Osiris-Rex will then extend its robot arm to snatch a sample of Bennu’s terrain in a “touch-and-go” manoeuvre set for July 2020.

Osiris-Rex will later fly back to Earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen for a parachute descent in the Utah desert in September 2023. NASA is developing a strategy for deflecting Bennu, or any other asteroid found to be on a collision course with Earth, by use of a special spacecraft to slam into the object hard enough to nudge it onto a safer path, said Lindley Johnson, a planetary defence officer with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “But this is all dependent on the outcome of a very close approach that Bennu has with Earth in September 2135,” Johnson said. “We’ll just need to wait and see. Rather, our great-great-grandchildren will need to see.”




US, China open trade talks in Beijing

US, China open trade talks in Beijing

US and Chinese negotiators kicked off two days of high-level trade talks in Beijing yesterday hoping to resolve a festering dispute that has cast a shadow over financial markets and the global growth outlook. Pressure to seal an accord

Saudi crown prince to visit Indonesia

Saudi crown prince to visit Indonesia

Indonesia will host Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for a state visit next week, Jakarta said yesterday, part of an Asian tour that includes stops in Pakistan, India and Malaysia. His two-day visit to the world’s b

Bahrain ready for Sports Day

Bahrain ready for Sports Day

The Kingdom of Bahrain is all set to embrace another major sporting event as the 2019 Bahrain Sports Day kicks off in different parts of Bahrain today. Organisations representing government and non-government parties, including ministr


Khloe breaks up with Tristan

Khloe breaks up with Tristan

American reality star Khloe Kardashian has called it quits with NBA player Tristan Thompson, just 10 months after the two welcomed their daughter. E! News confirmed recently that the couple has split up. This comes right around the sam

Palladium tops $1,500

Palladium tops $1,500

Precious metal palladium yesterday reached above $1,500 per ounce for the first time in trading thanks to supply deficit worries, according to analysts. Palladium hit $1,504.52 per ounce from $1,480.15 late on Tuesday. It later yesterd

ABG reports profit of US $129 million

ABG reports profit of US $129 million

Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) reported increases in income, with a 4 per cent increase in net operating income, a 5pc rise in total net income, as net income attributable of shareholders remained unchanged compared to the year 2017. Th