NASA launches first-ever test to divert asteroid from orbit

by time news

The US space agency NASA is planning to launch the DART project on Wednesday (24.11), an experiment in which a spacecraft will be deliberately crashed on an asteroid far from Earth to test the course of its orbit. This is the first attempt ever to deflect an asteroid On Earth from a collision of a large, unidentified space object that could produce severe damage and even extinction to humanity as happened at the time to dinosaurs.

The orbit of the spacecraft is on its way to asteroid impact, Photo: NASA

The asteroid to which the spacecraft is aimed is a dual system of a large asteroid called Dadimus that is 780 meters in diameter around which a small distance revolves around the asteroid Dimorphos which is 160 meters in diameter. The spacecraft will crash at a speed of 6.6 kilometers per second on the small asteroid around September 2022 and scientists from Earth will be able to examine the impact of the collision on its orbit.

Dadimus’ double asteroid system, chosen because of its enormous distance from Earth, about 11 million kilometers, so that its damage does not threaten humanity at all and in this respect, is a good candidate for this type of experiment.

NASA’s planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson explained: “This technique is considered the most mature approach in terms of our technology in reducing risk from large asteroids. “The current experiment will help planetary protection experts around the world refine their mathematical models and understand how we can deflect a large object close to Earth that could endanger us in the future.”

The spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 missile from Wandenberg Air Force Base, California and features advanced ion engine technology, solar panels and an artificial intelligence system that will allow it to maneuver itself into the asteroid independently. It also has sensitive cameras and means of communication with the Earth that will broadcast the entire process until the crash in real time.

One of the reasons for the urgency of the study stems from the fact that by 2021 only 40 percent of the large objects found in the Earth’s environment have been identified and therefore, although no spacecraft endangering humanity have been identified today, we simply do not have enough information on the subject.

If the weather leads to a postponement of the launch this coming Wednesday, the agency will try to repeat it by February as soon as there is a fitness hour. Meanwhile it is interesting to note that NASA’s current experiment comes out in close proximity to the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up. This is a fictional story about three scientists who warn the earth against doomsday

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