NASA hopes a mission that’s anticipated to launch subsequent month will display a method that would forestall an asteroid from hanging Earth.
The mission, known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, is led for NASA by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
“DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space,” the house company stated.
DART will hitch a journey aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to a near-Earth asteroid system known as (65803) Didymos.
It contains a 780-meter-wide physique orbited by a 160-meter-wide moonlet, “which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose the most likely significant threat to Earth,” NASA stated.
Aided by cameras and autonomous navigation methods, DART will crash into the moonlet at 6.6 kilometers per second, NASA stated.
“The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, but this will change the orbital period of the moonlet by several minutes — enough to be observed and measured using telescopes on Earth,” NASA stated.
The launch is scheduled for 10:20 p.m. PT Nov. 23 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The spacecraft will separate from the rocket and cruise for a couple of yr earlier than it’s anticipated to intercept (65803) Didymos in September 2022.
DART may also use photo voltaic panels to cost electrical ion thrusters, demonstrating one other rising house propulsion know-how, NASA stated.
“By utilizing electric propulsion, DART could benefit from significant flexibility to the mission timeline while demonstrating the next generation of ion engine technology, with applications to potential future NASA missions,” NASA stated.