NASA recently announced its intention of taking one of its most daring plans one step closer to reality. Namely, it decided to move its DART from a simple concept phase to an early design and testing one. This spacecraft is part of the agency bigger mission of trying to deflect asteroids to protect Earth from the much theorized about a future major strike.
DART, One of NASA’s Answers to a Future Asteroid Strike
DART or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test is the “first-ever” mission of its kind. This will be trying to demonstrate and evaluate the usefulness and possibility of deflecting asteroids. Such a technique has been vehiculated before as a potential method of protecting the planet.
NASA announced that it decided to transform this project and take it from being a mere concept to one step closer to reality. To do so, the agency moved the mission to its design and testing phase. According to a recent statement on the matter posted by NASA, the first such tests could be conducted sometime in 2024.
They will involve the “refrigerator-sized” DART spacecraft and a non-dangerous asteroid, called Dydimos (the Greek word for “twins”). This is a binary system space rock; namely, it is composed of two bodies. One of them is the larger Dydimos A, while the smaller one is called Dydimos B.
NASA’s spacecraft will be targeting this latter. It will be looking to crash into it around 3.7 miles per second or some nine times faster than a bullet, which should help alter its orbit.
“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact,” stated Andy Cheng.
Part of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, he is also the co-lead of this investigation. NASA has yet to announced an exact launching date for DART. However, it did point out that Didymos will be approaching Earth two times in close years. Once in 2022, and from a distance, and another in 2024 and much closer.
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