NASA launches “planetary defense” test to redirect dangerous asteroid back to Earth
Nasa announcement Monday the upcoming launch of its double asteroid redirection test (DART), which will assess technologies “to prevent a dangerous asteroid from hitting Earth”.
According to a Washington Post report, NASA is preparing to target and change the direction of the asteroid Didymos and its moon, close to Earth. The “planetary defense” test will begin next month.
DART is scheduled to launch for 10:20 p.m. PST, November 23, 2021 (1:20 a.m. EST, November 24). It will travel aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force base in California, NASA noted.
This mission will mark the first use of the kinetic impactor technique – “to send one or more large spacecraft at high speed on the path of an asteroid in space to change its motion”, NASA Explain.
Apparently, NASA’s target is a pair of asteroids that orbit the sun and occasionally approach Earth, but not enough to pose a threat. However, NASA says it’s their proximity that makes them a prime candidate for the test.
The post office said Didymos, the larger of the two asteroids, is about half a mile in diameter, while the smaller orbiting “moonlet” called Dimorphos is about 500 feet and, according to NASA, is “more typical of the size of the asteroids that could pose the greatest threat to Earth. “
Apparently, the DART mission aims to strike Dimorphos “at a speed of nearly 15,000 miles per hour” with the aim of changing its orbit “by a fraction of 1%” – which, although small, will be large enough to be observable by scientists from telescopes on Earth.
DART spacecraft impact with Dimorphos is expected towards the end of September next year, The Post noted.
Although the collision did not immediately stop an asteroid breaking Earth, Statler describe DART as a mission of “historic proportions”.
It will be “the first time that humanity will change anything in space”, he said. noted.
“We left footprints and tire tracks and things like that,” Statler added, “but this will be the first time that humanity will change a celestial movement.”