To avert Armageddon, NASA to collide spacecraft into asteroid to alter its orbit
In what can be called the first case of humanity’s interference in the gravitational dance of the solar system, NASA is going to launch a mission to deliberately collide a spacecraft into an asteroid in order to alter its orbit.
The agency will carry out the mission on Wednesday. The aim of the mission is to test drive a planetary defence system, which can prevent from extinction.
It will provide the first real data about what it is needed to deflect an Armageddon-inducing asteroid away from Earth.
The NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is the first attempt to test if such asteroid deflection is a realistic strategy. It will look into the possibility that whether a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it along with measuring the amount of deflection.
The 610 kg DART spacecraft will blast off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday.
Its target is the Didymos system, a harmless pair of asteroids, which consists of a 163-metre “moonlet” asteroid called Dimorphos orbiting a larger 780-metre asteroid called Didymos.
Jay Tate, director, National Near Earth Objects Information Centre in Knighton in Powys, Wales, said, “This is the first step to actually try a way of preventing near-Earth object impact. If it works, it would be a big deal, because it would prove that we have the technical capability of protecting ourselves.”