NASA has announced that it is partnering with SpaceX to host a spectacular asteroid mission.
As part of the “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (DART) NASA wants to hit a research satellite on an asteroid such that it is deflected from its original orbit.
The plan sounds crazy and a bit like a plot for a Hollywood flick. However, June 2021 is an official start date for the mission. The test wants to find out if this way of stopping or redirecting asteroid on a collision course with Earth is a possibility.
SpaceX will shoot the NASA satellite to the asteroid
As NASA announced on Friday, the satellite is being shot into space onboard a SpaceX rocket. The target is the double asteroid Didymos, which will be about eleven million kilometers from Earth at the time of the collision. The collision will occur about 16 months after the launch of the satellite in October 2022. The impact speed will be six kilometers per second, which corresponds to 21,726 km/h.
As a target, the smaller of the two asteroids, Didymos B, was selected, which has about 160 meters in diameter. Didymos A is almost five times bigger with its 780 meters diameter. The theory is that even a small crash correction could distract an asteroid until it misses the earth – as long as that happens soon enough. The double asteroid is not a threat to the earth, it is only driven for testing purposes. The planned mission with the help of SpaceX cost $ 69 million.
A visual representation of the The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART): Hitting an Asteroid Head On was shown by the JHU Applied Physics Labaratory in a video below:
For SpaceX, which has just successfully completed its first commercial flight on the Falcon Heavy rocket, and safely landed all three rocket engines, the week of good news continues.