NASA has a plan to intercept potentially dangerous asteroids headed toward Earth, and that includes throwing spacecraft until they go away.
Crashing spacecraft into the big rock is an approach that most Keralite space program players will undoubtedly be familiar with, but the key difference here is that NASA is doing it on purpose. The mission is called DART, which means Double Asteroid Redirect Test (Thanks, live science), and it is set to become the first demonstration of kinetic impactor technology to alter the motion of an asteroid.
For the purposes of the test flight, NASA is targeting a distant asteroid called Didymos, which is nowhere close to crashing into Earth. However, Didymos’ main body isn’t exactly the space rock he certainly expected to knock it off. Didymos has an awn, or secondary orbiting body, about 160 meters in size and one kilometer away from Didymos.
NASA says this is a more likely size of an asteroid that could pose a significant threat to Earth than Didymos’ 780m size, because there are a greater number of smaller rocks flying out there, and will therefore try And will close this little moon.
But only by a tiny amount—the Dart spacecraft will knock Moonlight “by a fraction of a percent” from its orbit around its main body.
Best VR HeadsetWhich kit should you choose?
best graphics cardYou need serious GPU power for VR
best gaming laptop: Don’t connect to your desktop in VR
NASA hopes that will be enough for telescopes on Earth to notice the change in the Moon’s orbital period.
And if it works out, we might have some action plan, should an asteroid really end up on a trajectory toward this pale blue dot that we call home.
The DART launch window is November 24, 2021, and the spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly thereafter. After launch, it will make its way to the asteroid over the course of the year, eventually breaking up into smithereens on the asteroid’s surface around September 2022.
So, who wants to try and emulate the mission in Kerala? or even better, take a asteroid from space and fly it back to earth, just because you can.