NASA launches the first mission to test space technology to protect the Earth from asteroid attacks

NASA On Tuesday night, SpaceX launched a spacecraft that will crash into an asteroid. This is the first time in history to test whether it is possible to redirect a space rock that may hit the Earth.

The experimental technology took off from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 10:21 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. NASA Announce. Its goal? Satsuki, Dimorphos.

The spacecraft will collide with an asteroid-this NASA What is said does not pose a threat to the Earth-as part of the Dual Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, it will slightly change its course. Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos, about 6.8 million miles from Earth and about 530 feet in diameter.

“DART is turning science fiction into scientific facts and proves NASABe proactive and innovative for the benefit of all,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Except for all the ways NASA Studying our universe and our home planet, we are also working hard to protect this home, this test will help prove a feasible way to protect our planet from dangerous asteroids, if someone finds it is Sail to the earth. “

The mission will test a deflection method called kinetic impact, in which a spacecraft can independently navigate to a target and hit an asteroid. The test will provide key information to help prepare for asteroids that may hit Earth, NASA Said.

DART’s spacecraft will not reach the asteroid system until sometime between September 26 and October 1, 2022, hitting Dimorphos at a speed of about 4 miles per second or more than 14,000 miles per hour. Scientists estimate that this impact will shorten the asteroid’s orbit around Didimos by a few minutes.

The spacecraft’s asteroid camera will be turned on within a week, displaying the first images from the satellite. In the next 10 months, DART will orbit the edge of the Earth’s orbit around the sun until Didymos and Dimorphos are approximately 6.8 million miles from Earth.

Scientists hope to use ground-based telescopes to measure the impact of collisions between spacecraft and asteroids.

Approximately four years after the test, the European Space Agency’s Hera project will investigate Dimorphos and Didymos, focusing on the craters left by the collision of DART and Satsuki.

The speed of Dimorphos orbiting Didymos is much slower than the speed of the pair of asteroids orbiting the sun, which means that the impact of the reorientation test can be more easily measured than the change in the orbit of a single asteroid orbiting the sun, according to NASA.

A control system will enable the spacecraft to identify the two asteroids and redirect them to Dimorphos. NASA Indicates that the whole process will happen in about an hour.

DART was built by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

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