NASA to Test Spacecraft to Protect Earth from Asteroids
OREANDA-NEWS. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will test the DART spacecraft, which will have to change its flight path after colliding with an asteroid. This was announced on the website of the American space agency.
"DART is a planetary defense-controlled test of technology to prevent a dangerous asteroid from colliding with Earth. The DART project will be the first demonstration of kinetic impact mechanism techniques to alter the motion of an asteroid in space,"- the description said.
In space the device will be delivered to the American company's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which will start from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 22:21 local time on November 23 (09:21 Moscow time on November 24). The broadcast of the launch will be available on the official NASA YouTube channel.
After the spacewalk, the DART probe will separate from the rocket and "start chasing" the twin asteroid Didim-Dimorph, which, like Earth, orbits the Sun. The vehicle is expected to collide with the smaller of the two, Dimorph, at about 24,000 km/h in the autumn of 2022. As a result of the collision, the orbit of the 160-metre-long Dimorph, which orbits the larger 760-metre-long Didymus, would have to deviate "by a fraction of a percent". Scientists expect this to be enough for them to record the deflection using telescopes from Earth. The purpose of the experiment is to develop a technique by which, in the future, if there are really dangerous for the planet asteroids experts could change the trajectory of their movement.
To operate all the probe's systems will be installed solar panels of the latest generation, which this year began to replace the old on the International Space Station. Also on board the probe will be placed a small satellite LICIACube (Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging Asteroids), developed by Argotec. According to scientists' plans, DART will release it 10 days before the impact date to photograph the asteroid. In addition, the LICIACube will be an additional means of capturing the probe's collision with Dimorph.