NASA has developed a spacecraft that features advanced protocol against an unusual threat. Although not intended for war, this astro defense ship specializes in deflecting its target. The spacecraft is not the usual capsules or spacecraft launched for research and commercial purposes, because it is equipped with effective technology that will be used to initiate a defensive method against asteroids likely to hit Earth.
According to Eminetra, there are currently more than 27,000 space rocks hovering in the neighboring space of our planet. Although these asteroids form and are found naturally throughout the galaxy, there is a possibility that the material could harm Earth and its inhabitants. To prevent the same demise that prehistoric dinosaurs witnessed, scientists have created a structure that could head into a very dangerous asteroid and divert its direction to a path other than our planet.
DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test
(Photo: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/WikiCommons)
The Planetary Defense Spacecraft Development Project was made possible by the efforts of NASA and Johns Hopkins APL scientists. Known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART, the ship is located at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and is expected to launch for the first time on November 24.
The debut will be the initial presentation for DART and a NASA study to prove that deflection of space rocks is possible. After launch, DART will head straight to the young moon orbiting near a 780-meter-high binary asteroid called 65803 Didymos. The main goal of the Planetary Defense mission was to examine data and gather crucial information about diverting asteroids off the path to Earth.
The new DART mission will first be tested on Didymus’ companion known as Dimorphos. It will be smashed into the young moon leaving all of its 550kg attached to the body before a calculation is made and a maneuver is performed outside of its initial thrust. Both Didymos and Demorphos are known to be part of a broader group of asteroids that lie outside the Earth’s eruptive ocean. The two asteroids are classified as S-type and have a size of more than 25,000 feet.
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DART and the dangers of S-type near-Earth asteroids
The presence of asteroids close to Earth is a common problem among the astronomical community, Nancy Chabot, a planetary expert at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a report from Space. Cosmic objects are already considered potential dangers to our planet, and there are many studies devoted to this issue.
DART will monitor many aspects of asteroid thrusters and make the first and only attempt to fend off an asteroid in the history of scientific studies. The data harnessed from the mission will be the basis for further investigations that will improve our response against unwanted threats swirling in space.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 was the rocket of choice to lift DART into space. According to NASA’s DART report, the spacecraft will be launched between November 24 and February 12. However, the time flex will not affect the mission’s time period, and DART will still return to Earth in September of next year.
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