Because this asteroid is among those catalogued as a near-Earth object, the mission would further clarify the threat that this particular object poses, and better predict the orbits of other near-Earth asteroids, Beshore said.
Scientists at the University of Arizona are collaborating with NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems on this mission.
To better predict the orbits of hazardous objects, this group is looking at the Yarkovsky effect, a force created when the asteroid absorbs sunlight and re-radiates it as heat.
The effect is, at first glance, quite small -- Beshore cited his colleague Steven Chesley's comparison of this effect to the force you feel when you hold grapes in your hand. But over time, it's an important consideration when trying to understand where an asteroid is headed.
"That force, applied over millions of years, can literally move mountains of rock around," Beshore said.
But, and we can't say this enough: Don't panic over it.