NASA is the leading research institution that is currently determined in taking human to the space. NASA aims to take humans to Mars but first, they have to discover whether it is habitable. To fulfill their plans, they sent a perseverance rover that is collecting samples from the red planet. The samples will later be transported back to earth for examination.
But what will happen if an asteroid strikes our planet Earth one day? Most of use just scream and run for safety. But normally an asteroid is a large body and so running won’t help. As usual, it is NASA’s responsibility to ensure that we are safe as we wait to be taken to Mars. NASA has come up with a strategy to ensure an asteroid never find any chances to strike our planet.
NASA launched a space craft called Dart, with will strike head-on with any asteroid coming in our direction. After head-on collision, the asteroid will change its trajectory and go past the Earth peacefully without harming us.
But they need to discover whether the incoming asteroid will really change trajectory. So, they have arranged an experiment where the spacecraft will crash head-on with an asteroid millions of kilometers away from the earth. The asteroid ‘Dimorphos’ is harmless and peacefully orbiting another bigger space rock they called ‘Didymos’.
The spacecraft will strike the asteroid ‘Dimorphos’ at 22,500 kph which will alter its track on the orbit. This means NASA will also change the trajectory of any asteroid making its way toward the Earth. The small asteroid is orbiting the large asteroid as the Earth orbits the Sun.
However, Dimorphos is so large that when compared to the spacecraft, it’s like hitting the great pyramid with a golf cart. The spacecraft ‘Dart’ is 570 kilograms while the asteroid is 5 billion kilograms. The impact aft head-on collision will not bring impact immediately but after some time.
The impact will be detected by European Spacecraft Hera in 2024.
“So if you were going to do this for planetary defense, you would do it five, 10, 15, 20 years in advance in order for this technique to work. Even if Dart misses, the experiment still will provide valuable insight. This is why we test. We want to do it now rather than when there’s an actual need,” said NASA program executive Andrea Riley.
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