NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tuesday night, humanity will make its first attempt to defend itself against this extraterrestrial threat – asteroids.
The sky appeared to be on fire in February 2013 as the Chelyabinsk meteor darted towards the earth. A shock wave broke windows, injuring more than 1,000 people. The motherland of this meteor – a near-Earth asteroid about 20 meters wide.
Lori Glaze, director of NASADepartment of Planetary Science. Glaze says that’s why NASA is preparing for the future, when an asteroid threatens life on Earth and we need to protect our planet.
Tuesday night, the DART mission launched into space. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Using solar power for propulsion, NASA’s DART will be 6.5 million miles away in 10 months and within the impressive distance of a near-Earth binary asteroid – Didymos – the larger of the two. chimpanzees and Dimorphos, the smaller, or “moonlet”.
DART will focus on Dimorphos in hopes of redirecting it. “The asteroid we’re trying to hit is about the size of a football stadium,” Glaze said. “And we’re going to try and hit it with something the size of a refrigerator.”
DART won’t keep an eye on Dimorphos until it’s about an hour away from impact. “It will show up as a single pixel in the camera,” says Glaze.
The spacecraft will begin taking pictures of the target and navigating without human intervention. “Find the best angle to hit that asteroid and move that momentum,” Glaze said.
Could the diversion cause the asteroid to go in the wrong direction? WCBS-TV in New York asked meteorite curator Denton Ebel of the American Museum of Natural History. “This is rocket science,” says Ebel. “We know these things hit the earth, so we need to know how to deflect them – especially the big ones.”
Thankfully, scientists know no big ones are headed our way. Rest assured knowing NASA is ready to launch the future of protecting our planet.
You may be wondering why NASA didn’t blow up the asteroid? That’s something you don’t want to do, Glaze says. Instead of one big asteroid slamming toward Earth, you’d have thousands: Blowing it up doesn’t change its orbit.
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/11/23/nasa-asteroid-dart-mission-protect-earth/ ‘This is rocket science’ – CBS Pittsburgh