NASA to launch “Armageddon”-style mission to intentionally crash into an asteroid’s moon and check “planetary protection”

NASA’s upcoming mission would possibly resemble a scene from a sci-fi catastrophe film. The company introduced Sunday that it is sending spacecraft above the Earth to crash into an asteroid’s moonlet to alter the physique’s trajectory. 

The mission, a Double Asteroid Redirection Check (DART), would be the first company’s use of the kinetic impactor method, wherein a big, high-speed spacecraft is shipped into an asteroid’s path to alter its movement. NASA is ready to conduct the mission, what it calls “the primary check for planetary protection,” on November 24, the day earlier than Thanksgiving, to hit the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos and its moonlet, Dimorphos. 

The asteroid is roughly 780 meters throughout — about 2,559 toes, based on NASA. Its moonlet is about 525 toes, which based on NASA, is “extra typical of the dimensions of asteroids that might pose the most definitely vital menace to Earth.” 

The DART spacecraft will crash into the moonlet practically head-on at about 6.6 kilometers per second, a pace that is sooner than a bullet and speedy sufficient to alter the pace of the moonlet by a fraction of 1%, NASA says. Although it seems like a small change, this impression will change the orbital interval of the moonlet by a number of minutes. 

DART can be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, but it surely’s not going to crash into the asteroid’s moon for one more 10 months. NASA mentioned that it will likely be cruising in area till September 2022, when the Didymos system is inside 11 million kilometers of Earth. 

The mission is harking back to the 1998 sci-fi motion film “Armageddon,” wherein the area company deploys a staff of civilians to land on an asteroid and detonate it earlier than it destroys Earth. Whereas the essential concept to the film is comparable, nonetheless, NASA has mentioned that neither Didymos nor Dimorphos pose a menace to Earth. This explicit mission, the company says, is in order that scientists can calculate how efficient DART missions might be. 

The space from Earth that the asteroid and its moonlet can be on the time of the collision is shut sufficient that telescopes will be capable of observe what occurs. 

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