A NASA spacecraft is about to collide with an asteroid on a planetary defense test mission

A spacecraft constructed by NASA as a part of a planetary defense test mission will intentionally collide with a small asteroid.

While the asteroid – named Dimorphos – poses no menace to Earth, the mission goals to present that harmful rocks will be deflected by intentionally colliding with them.

The spacecraft, referred to as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), is anticipated to collide with the 170-metre-wide (560 ft) asteroid on September 27 at 00:14 UK time.

(PA chart)

Dimorphos is a part of a binary asteroid system and orbits Didymos, taking about 11 hours and 55 minutes.

But NASA astronomers count on the Dart, because it destroys itself within the course of, to shorten its orbital interval by about 10 minutes.

NASA stated: “DART’s goal asteroid is not a menace to Earth, nevertheless it is the proper testing floor to see if this technique of asteroid deflection – referred to as the kinetic impression method – could possibly be a viable method to defend our planet. If an asteroid collides with Earth sooner or later.

Currently, about 27,000 asteroids are orbiting close to Earth.

(PA chart)

Rocks 140 m (460 ft) and bigger in dimension and approaching 4.7 million miles (7.5 million km) in orbit are categorised as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).

The DART mission would be the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection expertise.

The spacecraft lately captured the primary photos of Didymos and Dimorphos utilizing an onboard instrument referred to as the Asteroid Camera for Didymos Reconnaissance and Optical Navigation (DRACO).

Asteroid Didymos and its orbiting moon Dimorphos imaged by Draco (Nasa JPL DART Navigation Team)

It was about 20 million miles from the asteroid system when it was photographed in July.

Dart took 10 months to get anyplace close to Dimorphous after launching final November on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The asteroids will likely be about 11 million kilometers from Earth after they collide.

Dart will speed up to about 15,000 miles per hour (24,140 kilometers per hour) earlier than colliding with Dimorphos.

The collision will likely be recorded by a briefcase-sized satellite tv for pc referred to as the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube) offered by the Italian Space Agency.

(ESA/Office of Science)

LICIACube, which weighs simply 14 kg (31 lbs), lately rode with Dart into deep house earlier than separating from the spacecraft in its last farewell.

In 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its Hera spacecraft, which can make a two-year journey to the asteroid system to collect data after the accident.

ESA stated: “When Hera reaches Didymos in 2026, Dimorphos could have achieved historic significance: the primary object within the Solar System to have its orbit measurably shifted by human effort.”

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