A spacecraft built by NASA is ready to intentionally crash right into a small asteroid quickly after midnight on Monday (26 September) as a part of a planetary safety test mission. The goal of the mission is to demonstrate that risky incoming rocks may be deflected by deliberately smashing into them.
The spacecraft, referred to as Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart), is expected to collide with the 170-metre wide (560ft) asteroid at 00:14 UK time on Tuesday 27 September. The asteroid, named Dimorphos, poses no chance to Earth and is a part of a binary asteroid gadget that orbits Didymos (a larger companion asteroid), which takes round eleven hours and fifty five minutes.
NASA astronomers are hoping that Dart, even as destroying itself in the process, will shorten this orbital period by about 10 minutes.
Dart going to hit Asteroid
NASA said: “Dart’s target asteroid isn’t a threat to Earth however is an appropriate trying out ground to see if this technique of asteroid deflection – referred to as the kinetic impactor technique – would be a viable way to protect our planet if an asteroid on a collision course with Earth were discovered in the future.”
The Dart mission will be the first ever full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology.
The spacecraft these days captured its first photos of Didymos and Dimorphos in July when it was about 20 million miles (32 million km) away from the asteroid system. It used an onboard instrument, referred to as the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (Draco), to take the photos.
It has taken 10 months for Dart to return back near Dimorphous after launching last November on SpaceX’s Falcon nine rocket.
What will happen when the project takes place?
The asteroids can be round 6.8 million miles (eleven million kilometres) from Earth when the collision happens. Dart will boost up at about 15,000 miles per hour (24,140 kilometres according to hour) before colliding with Dimorphos.
This collision can be recorded by a briefcase-sized satellite referred to as the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube), which was provided by the Italian Space Agency.
LICIACube, which weighs simply 14 kg (31 lbs), hitched a trip with Dart into deep area before these days separating from the spacecraft in a final farewell.
In 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will release its Hera spacecraft, to be able to move on a two-year adventure to the asteroid system to accumulate facts in the aftermath of the crash.
ESA said: “By the time Hera reaches Didymos, in 2026, Dimorphos could have finished historic significance: the primary item in the Solar System to have its orbit shifted by human attempt in a measurable way.”
How to observe the mission
Dart can be returning photos to Earth on the charge of 1 according to 2nd because it heads closer to the smash. It is anticipated to make effect at 12.14am on Tuesday.
Nasa will livestream the effect on Nasa TV. You can watch this on the gap agency’s website, or through its YouTube channel. Live coverage starts at 11pm on Monday.
How many asteroids are there close to Earth?
There are presently around 27,000 asteroids in close to-Earth orbit. Rocks which might be 140 metres (460ft), large in size and come nearer than 4.7 million miles (7.5 million km) all through orbit are classed as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).