NASA will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to divert its trajectory

NASA will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to divert its trajectory

Everything is ready for what we have seen in so many fiction films and books to become a reality: the JAR will crash an unmanned spacecraft in a asteroid to divert its trajectory.

The The $330 million mission is the culmination of more than five years of work of a team of scientists in the United States, which seeks to defend the Earth against potential threats from space. A) Yes, On September 26, the DART spacecraft plans to intentionally collide with the asteroid Dimorphos.located 11 million kilometers from Earth, to test a new technology that tries to protect our planet from possible collisions of space objects.

As reported by NASA, the impact with the asteroid Dimorphos It will take place at 7:14 p.m. local time (8:14 p.m. Argentine time and 11:14 p.m. GMT) and poses no threat to Earth. By measuring with ground-based telescopes, DART will provide important data to help better prepare in the event an asteroid is found that could pose a risk of impact.

The spacecraft will collide with Dimorphos, a small asteroid 160 meters in diameter that orbits a larger one called Didymos and forms what is called a double asteroid system.
The spacecraft will collide with Dimorphos, a small asteroid 160 meters in diameter that orbits a larger one called Didymos and forms what is called a double asteroid system.

“These objects travel through space and of course they marked the Moon and over time they also had significant impacts on Earth, they affected our history,” he said. Thomas ZurbuchenNASA associate administrator for science.

The kamikaze journey of the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft it’s the first step in what researchers hope will be the technology used in the future to prevent an asteroid from hitting Earth. “Is something truly historic. I’m thrilled that we’re leaving something that was considered fictional and taking a step to make it more real.” Nancy Chabot, one of the main researchers working on the DART spacecraft.

The long-term goal of the DART mission, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) for NASA, is to develop this technology to locate potential threats and deflect them before they pose imminent danger. Chabot recounted how, as a child, she became fond of science fiction, such as the film Armageddon, where the character played by Bruce Willis is part of a mission to destroy an asteroid approaching Earth.

The big difference between what Hollywood proposed and the mission Chabot and the group of NASA scientists are embarking on is that the goal is to “divert, not destroy. It’s not about blasting the asteroid into millions of pieces, but about giving it a little push to deflect it. We want to know what happened to Dimorphos, but more importantly, we want to understand what it means to potentially apply this technique in the future.”

The diagram of the DART mission shows the impact on the small moon of the asteroid (65803) Didymos, with which it is intended to deviate its trajectory.  (NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS)
The diagram of the DART mission shows the impact on the small moon of the asteroid (65803) Didymos, with which it is intended to deviate its trajectory. (NASA/JOHNS HOPKINS)

The idea is as follows: to do a test to obtain data and see if it is possible for a ship to deviate the trajectory of an asteroid. To do it, The spacecraft will collide with Dimorphos, a small asteroid 160 meters in diameter that revolves around a larger one called Didymos. and that they form what is called a double asteroid system. Hitting this system and not an isolated space rock makes it much easier and more cost effective for researchers to analyze the impact of the collision, to see if it actually deviated from its path and how.

“We can measure it because We already know how long it takes Dermophus to ready Dynamos: 11 hours and 55 minutes”, which allows researchers to measure its trajectory every twelve hours thanks to telescopes. The DART mission is part of the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office, founded in 2016 for the purpose of detecting and studying near-Earth objects, a category that includes asteroids and comets orbiting the sun. The bureau identified 95% of all nearby objects as having a diameter greater than a kilometer and about 50% of those less than 900 meters.

The last asteroid impact on Earth was recorded in 2013 in Russia, when an object 20 meters in diameter entered the Earth’s atmosphere. It exploded before hitting the surface, generating a shock wave that injured 1,500 and damaged 7,200 buildings in six different cities. NASA has assured that it currently has no objects on its radar that could pose a direct threat to Earth for the next 100 years.

Infographic: Marcelo Regalado

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