There will be an unusual collision in space

The test will be of enormous importance in terms of planetary protection

The operation is a key test of our ability to prevent a cosmic object from destroying life on Earth. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft launched from California last November and will soon reach its destination, which it will hit at a speed of approximately 23,000 kilometers per hour, according to Origo’s article.

NASA’s first live planetary defense test is of enormous significance (Source: NASA)

In fact, the 800-meter-diameter asteroid Didymos and the smaller asteroid Dimorphos orbiting it do not pose a threat to Earth either, as the pair orbits the Sun and approaches Earth at a maximum of 11.2 million kilometers. However, NASA thought it important to conduct such an experiment before it was really needed. The DART spacecraft was launched on November 24, 2021 from the Vanderberg Space Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.

Figure illustrating the size of Dimorphos (Source: ESA/European Space Agency)

The car-sized probe traveled 11 million kilometers in 10 months to collide with the 160-meter-diameter asteroid Dimorphos. The two asteroids were discovered two decades ago.

The pair was first named the twins (Didymos), and later the smaller asteroid was named Dimorphos, which means double shape and suggests that it is the first celestial body that humanity will know in two forms: pre-impact as seen by DART , and as the European Space Agency (ESA) Hera mission will see it a few years later.

The historic impact will be broadcast live

The researchers hope that the collision will shorten the orbital period of Dimorphos around Didymos by 10 minutes, but even a change of 73 seconds would be considered a success. Currently, Dimorphos orbits Didymos in 11 hours and 55 minutes. In the case of a celestial body millions of kilometers away, even a small push can be enough to change its trajectory to a safe one.

Artist’s rendering of the binary asteroid pair. The smaller one will crash on Monday NASA’s spacecraft (Source: NASA)

Dimorphos was chosen because it is similar in size to asteroids that could pose a potential threat to Earth.

Researchers are currently not aware of any asteroids that could collide with Earth in the foreseeable future, but they have identified 27,000 asteroids near our planet, and more than ten thousand of them are over 140 meters in diameter. In addition, there may be many other small celestial bodies that have not been detected so far.

This is an exciting time, not only for the space agency, but also in the history of space and humanity

Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary protection officer, told reporters on Thursday. If all goes according to plan, the impact will take place on Monday at 11:14 p.m. CET and will be broadcast live by NASA.

The original article by clicking here is available.

Cover image source: NASA


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