(Mirror Daily, United States) – Although the chances are small, it is not impossible for our planet to clash with a killer asteroid. NASA admitted that these cosmic objects are a real concern, and decided to look for ways to avoid such a catastrophe. This is how the agency came to develop the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
Designing a method to stay safe from asteroid collisions
Until now, the plans on how to avoid an asteroid collision have been in a theoretical stage. On Friday, NASA announced they would soon start implementing these concepts and start designing them. At the moment, the design is only in a preliminary stage, but the agency has already released a video showing their ideas.
DART implies the testing of the kinetic impactor technique, namely changing the path of an asteroid by smashing a spacecraft into it. For the experiment, NASA thought of testing this technique on the Didymos pair of asteroids, which come close to Earth both in 2022 and 2024. Fortunately, they will pose no danger to our planet.
Hitting asteroids with spacecrafts to keep them away from Earth
The video shows how DART will be launched from Earth, fly until it gets closer to the pair, and crash right into the smaller asteroid. DART is about the size of a refrigerator, and should reach a speed of around 3.7 miles per second. If the impact is successful, the object should change its orbit and no longer approach Earth so closely.
Those asteroids which pose a collision danger are classified as NEOs (near-Earth objects). Scientists are able to monitor them and find out when they get too close to Earth, but finding methods to keep them away is much more difficult.
Fortunately, DART looks like a great solution against asteroid collisions. If the test is successful, this might become the standard method to protect our planet from such calamities and keep it safe from clashing with cosmic objects.
Image Source: Flickr