In case an asteroid heads towards Earth on a collision trajectory right now, we would be defenseless. The US space agency plans to change that. NASA will try to change an asteroid orbit in 2022 by crashing a spacecraft into that space rock. The mission, called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), will target the Didymoon asteroid which a small rock, orbiting another bigger one.
Didymoon is a 150-meter “moon asteroid,” meaning that, as I’ve already mentioned, it is orbiting another space rock of 800 meters in diameter. This binary asteroid system is known as Didymos which means “twin” in Greek. The system is part of the so-called near-Earth objects, a group of space rocks in the close vicinity of our planet.
NASA keeps an eye on these near-Earth objects, looking for potential threats. However, even though the agency finds one, we could not do much about it with the current technology. That’s why NASA plans to launch the DART mission to change Didymoon orbit in 2022.
NASA’s DART Mission Will Change An Asteroid Orbit in 2022
DART will be a solar-powered space probe and will head towards Didymoon to smash it in an attempt to change the asteroid orbit. That would happen in 2022, according to NASA, if everything goes as planned. DART would be accompanied by ESA’s Hera spacecraft which has the mission to collect data about that binary asteroid system, in general, and Didymoon, in particular.
“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,” said the planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Lindley Johnson.
“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact. Since we don’t know that much about their internal structure or composition, we need to perform this experiment on a real asteroid,” added Andy Cheng from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, who also participates in the DART mission.
Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.