NASA is about to strike an asteroid!

NASA is about to strike an asteroid!
NASA is about to strike an asteroid!
Viviana Urbina Meteored Chili 7 minutes ago 4 min
Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube before impact on the Didymos binary system. Credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins APL / Steve Gribben.

The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission is already programmed for its first test flight to assess technology that aims to defend the planet against dangerous asteroid impacts from space. Its launch is scheduled for 06:24 UTC (03:24 in Chile) on November 24, and will be taken into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which will depart from Force Base Vandenberg Special in Santa Barbara, California.

This will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique, which aims to divert the trajectory of asteroids, by impacting them with one or more large spacecraft, and thus avoid a possible catastrophic collision on our planet.

Also read: Space, a treasure full of precious stones!

The objective of this first mission will be the asteroid Didymos and its moon – which presently pose no danger to the planet – and which are relatively close to Earth. Following the separation of the launch rocket, it will take almost a year for DART to reach the Didymos system, where it will impact its moon – Dimorphos – at the end of September 2022. By this date, the system will be at a distance of 11 million kilometers from Earth, and it will be possible to monitor the impact from the surface of our planet, by quantifying the change in speed of the lunar orbit of the Didymos system, using radar and telescopes.

Like in a movie

Some must remember a dinner in the movie Armagenddon (released in 1998), in which NASA sent a group of oil rig drillers to plant bombs on an asteroid that was heading on a collision course with our planet in order to avoid a disaster, destroying in space using nuclear bomb.

Even if this time there will be no atomic explosion or megatsunami due to the impact of a fragment falling on Earth, the moment is always one of the wait, given the importance of these technologies, for the protection of the planet and all the life that it is based on it.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory staff examine DART systems. Credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins APL / Ed Whitman.

DART is a low-cost structure consisting of a main cube measuring 1.2 x 1.3 x 1.3 meters, to which a series of elements have been added, including two extra-large solar modules (ROSA; Roll-Out Solar Array) of 8.5 m in length – when fully deployed -, and which will power the aircraft’s systems. It also has a camera (DRACO; Didymos Reconnaissance & Asteroid Camera for OpNav) which will help you navigate and recognize the target, which will strike at a speed of 6.6 km / s.

The DART will be accompanied in its mission by the LICIACube, a satellite of the Italian Space Agency (ASI, by its acronym in Italian), which collect information on the moment of impact, as well as images of the possible impact crater that originated.

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