NASA and the European Space Agency are setting up a project that could save humanity from potential dangerous meteors and asteroids headed for Earth.
The two space agencies have teamed up to clear some of the near Earth objects, by starting a new asteroid targeting mission.
The European Space Agency announced it started the preliminary design work for the Asteroid Impact Mission. According to the scientists, the new project will be a great opportunity to test new technologies which could be then used for future deep space missions, but also for planetary defense methods.
ESA will carry out a mission to Didymos, a deep space binary asteroid system. The mission will focus on the asteroid moon named Didymoon, which is expected to pass-by Earth at a non-risk distance of 11 million kilometers in the year 2022.
The European Space Agency will analyze the asteroid using high resolution photographs and mappings, but will also carry out radar and thermal mapping of Didymoon. After all the research is complete, the space agency will send a lander on the asteroid.
ESA said that its Asteroid Impact Mission will focus on gathering scientific bounty and increasing information which will provide valuable observations and data about the formation of the solar system. This extraordinary mission will also set up humanity for future dangerous asteroids that might head directly to Earth.
NASA will also send a Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) in 2022, along with AIM: This means that the American scientists will deploy a probe that will crash into the surface of Didymoon.
Ian Carnelli, mission manager of ESA, explained that the results of the two missions will give the laboratory impact models to be further used on a larger scale to deeply understand the reactions that are taking place on a real asteroid when it is exposed to this type of energy.
Through the DART mission, NASA also aims to shift Didymoon’s orbit. If successful, it will be the time that any human activity has ever changed the dynamics and trajectory of a solar system object.
NASA’s DART and ESA’s AIM projects will be useful lessons for asteroid defense strategies in the future. The scientists want to achieve insights about what type of force and energy is required in order to change the paths of asteroids, especially of those space objects that are headed for Earth and could destroy life as we know it.
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