NASA has successfully launched a spacecraft that will eventually crash into an asteroid 11 million miles from Earth next year.
The Armageddon-style doomsday defense test is called the Dual Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – and it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.
The ambitious project – involving teams from Nasa and the European Space Agency – is an experiment of technology to stop the impact of Earth by a killer asteroid.
Nasa launched the rocket at 10:21 a.m. Pacific time – ie 6:21 a.m. UK time.
If successful, it could pave the way for a new planetary defense system that can deflect incoming space rocks before impact.
The plan mirrors the plot of the Hollywood hit “Armageddon,” in which Nasa steers a spacecraft to an asteroid to prevent it from hitting Earth.
“DART will be the first demonstration of kinematics techniques to alter the motion of an asteroid in space,” Nasa said on its website.
The DART spacecraft consists of a box-shaped body twice the size of a washing machine with two 18-meter-long solar panels.
On November 24, the craft was launched onto a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
DART will approach the near-Earth binary asteroid Didymos about nine months later – 11 million miles from its home planet.
The impact is expected to take place between September 26 and October 1 next year.
Didymos is about 740 meters across and lies between the orbits of Earth and Mars. It’s not quite the focus of the mission.
Instead, Nasa’s brave warship will set its sights on a smaller asteroid – or moonlet – that orbits Didymos closely.
DART will smash into the space rock at 15,000mph in an attempt to alter its orbit around its host.
After DART hits its target, the Nasa and ESA telescopes on Earth will look at it to check if the plan worked.
A small cube launched with the mission will collect data before, during and after the collision.
“The DART spacecraft will achieve kinematic deflection by deliberately crashing into the moon at about 6.6 km/s, with the assistance of an onboard camera (named),” Nasa said. is DRACO) and sophisticated auto-navigation software”.
“The collision would change the speed of the moon in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of a percent.
“This would change the orbital period of the small moon by a few minutes – enough to observe and measure with telescopes on Earth.”
Space experts have identified at least 26,000 so-called “near-Earth objects”.
An estimated 4,700 subjects meet Nasa’s classification as “Potentially Hazardous Subjects”.
That means they are more than 500ft across, pass within 4.7 million miles of Earth, and would cause serious damage if they hit them.
Didymos is not considered a threat to our planet, but DART promises to help Nasa and ESA build a system to protect Earth from any space rock that might be a little too close for comfort. roof in the future.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4124833/nasa-crash-spacecraft-asteroid-armageddon-dart-launch/ Nasa launches spacecraft that will crash into an asteroid in Armageddon-style doomsday defense