NASA’s planetary defence system: The mission that plans to defend earth from asteroids, comets

Nov 25, 2021

By: Shadab Rabbani

The launch of DART

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test was launched on Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California.

Credit: NASA

Collision in 2022

It is a part of NASA’s larger planetary defence strategy and will collide with a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth in 2022.

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Success of mission

If the launch is successful, the DART will impact the asteroids in late September or early October of 2022.

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Dimorphos

NASA hopes to redirect the Dimorphos asteroid that orbits the Didymos asteroid system, which is five times larger than Dimorphos, and orbits the sun.

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The impact

DART will collide with Dimorphos at 6.6 kilometers per second, shrinking its orbit and making it 73 seconds faster than its current speed.

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Travel path

DART will continue to travel just outside of Earth’s orbit around the Sun for the next 10 months until Didymos and Dimorphos will be close, about 11 million kilometres from Earth.

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Why DART?

With this test mission, NASA wants to show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it.

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Asteroid Defence System

If this mission is successful, it will help NASA plan its Asteroid Defence System to battle asteroids from hitting the Earth by changing their trajectories.

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Photographs

LICIACube, a CubeSat riding with DART that has been provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), will be released prior to the collision to capture images of the impact and the resulting cloud of ejected matter.

Credit: Unsplash

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