NASA developing first asteroid deflection mission

NASA is developing the first-ever mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test that will deflect a near-Earth asteroid, and help test the systems that will allow mankind to protect the planet from potential cosmic body impacts in the future.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test

  • DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique striking the asteroid to shift its orbit to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.
  • DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact.
  • It is being designed and would be built and managed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory is moving from concept development to preliminary design phase.

Experiment on a real asteroid

  • The target for DART is an asteroid, the asteroid is called Didymos that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022, and then again in 2024.
  • The asteroid system that consists of two bodies: Didymos A and Didymos B.
  • DART would impact only the smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B.
  • After launch, DART would fly to Didymos and use an APL- developed on board autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B.
  • Then the refrigerator-sized spacecraft would strike the smaller body at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet, about six kilometres per second.
  • Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.

  • By doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Awareness in the fields of  Space


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