A NASA spacecraft has beamed back images of giant asteroid Bennu, which scientists estimate has a one-in-2700 chance of hitting earth 166 years from now.
The 1600 foot wide space rock can be seen from different angles while the images are rotated, showing how it is a roughly spherical shape.
Twitter users reacted to the possibility of Bennu hitting earth in 166 years, with one joking: “Wow. Right in the middle of the Brexit negotiations.”
Another added: “As long as it doesn’t gatecrash my 204th birthday then we’re Good Bennu.”
NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft arrived successfully on the asteroid on Monday at 17.09 GMT, after a gruelling two year journey where it travelled more than a billion miles through the cosmos.
Javier Cerna, Lockheed Martin communications system engineer, raised his arms in jubilation and announced: “We have arrived.”
The spacecraft will spend two years flying alongside Bennu at a distance of nearly 12 kilometres from the object, regularly making physical contact to collect two kilograms of samples from the massive space rock, NASA explained.
The OSIRIS-Rex mission blasted off from Florida in September 2016.
The spacecraft will collect samples from the space rock which could pave the way for an asteroid mining industry, with some of them worth trillions of dollars because of their minerals which are scarce on Earth such as platinum.
It will also give vital information on how to deflect asteroids from their collision course with Earth.
Finally, it will help unlock the secrets of the solar system.
OSIRIS-Rex will stay alongside asteroid for two years and then will return to Earth in a historic first.
NASA said in a statement: “Analysing a sample from Bennu will help planetary scientists better understand the role asteroids may have played in delivering life-forming compounds to Earth.
“We know from having studied Bennu through Earth- and space-based telescopes that it is a carbonaceous, or carbon-rich, asteroid. Carbon is the hinge upon which organic molecules hang.
“Bennu is likely rich in organic molecules, which are made of chains of carbon bonded with atoms of oxygen, hydrogen, and other elements in a chemical recipe that makes all known living things.
“Besides carbon, Bennu also might have another component important to life: water, which is trapped in the minerals that make up the asteroid.”