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Space & Astronomy

Probe to smash into an asteroid at 15,000mph

By T.K. Randall
October 7, 2021 · Comment icon 5 comments



The data from the mission could one day save the Earth. Image Credit: ESA
NASA has announced more details of an upcoming mission that will attempt to redirect an asteroid.
Known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the spacecraft will launch on November 23rd and head to the binary asteroid Didymos, which consists of one larger space rock measuring 2,600ft across and a smaller 'moonlet' which measures around 525ft across.

Once there, the probe will smash headlong into the smaller of the two rocks at 15,000mph.

The mission is designed to test out what is known as the kinetic impactor technique - an asteroid defense strategy that works by redirecting an incoming space rock so that it misses the Earth.
"It will confirm for us what the viability of the kinetic impactor technique is for diverting an asteroid's orbit and determine that it remains a viable option, at least for smaller-sized asteroids, which are the most frequent impact hazard," NASA's Lindley Johnson told Space.com.

Europe, meanwhile, was to launch AIM ( Asteroid Impact Mission ), a probe that would travel to the scene of the experiment where it could collect data about the impact as it happens, however this has since been replaced with a less ambitious spacecraft known as Hera.

Hera will arrive several years after the collision has happened and will conduct a full analysis of the impact crater while also trialing a number of novel new technologies such as autonomous navigation.

The data it collects could one day help to - quite literally - save the world.

Source: Live Science | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 12 months ago
Crossing finger that they will use a live feed camera while doing it.†Just kidding... at†15,000 miles per hour, we would see nothing anyway, lol !
Comment icon #2 Posted by OverSword 12 months ago
How ironic if it deflected it to the earth?†
Comment icon #3 Posted by and then 12 months ago
I'd imagine those clever folks at NASA wouldn't make that mistake but I DO wonder how they can be confident that changing the velocity or track of such a body couldn't cause it to in turn displace other such bodies'†orbits.† It'd be quite the irony if they caused a non-threatening asteroid to push a much worse body onto a collision course with our planet.††
Comment icon #4 Posted by ChrLzs 12 months ago
There's this science called orbital mechanics... it's not perfect, but it's pretty good.† Given the infintesimally small chance of ANY nearby object having a trajectory that will hit earth, if one is found that IS going to, it's an extremely safe bet that pushing it slightly off course will not then send another one careening at us.† Space isn't filled with big rocks..† It's not like they are blowing it up into lots of little pieces. Way beyond irony.† In fact, if that did happen..†I'd start believing there was a higher entity that had it in for us....
Comment icon #5 Posted by Manwon Lender 9 months ago
Yes,†NASA†really is crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid. That spacecraft is DART, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Now, asteroids hit the Earth all of the time. Luckily, the ones that are big enough to cause widespread damage are pretty rare and none are expected in the near future. NASA and others are actively tracking asteroids, but also we havenít found all of them yet. So, it makes sense to do this first test to demonstrate if we needed to protect the Earth what might we do. And we should do this test before we need it. Thatís where DART comes in. DART is a spacecraft thatís about ... [More]


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