Asteroid-deflecting NASA spacecraft begins final preparations

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Oct 21, 2021, 09:47 PM IST

Representative image Photograph:(AFP)

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NASA's asteroid deflecting spacecraft will lift-off in November. SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take it to space where the spacecraft will impact an asteroid moonlet named Dimorphos

Asteroids may be small as compared to Earth, but their destructive power is huge due to momentum imparted to them by their speed. An asteroid struck Earth millions of years ago and ended the reign of dinosaurs. Such a rogue asteroid will very much be capable of ending human civilisation as we know it. Planetary defence hence is an important aspect of our space studies.

Humankind is taking first steps in this direction. NASA's asteroid deflecting spacecraft has begun final preparations before its lift-off. The spacecraft will lift-off in November this year. SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take it in space.

The spacecraft is now at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It was transported there on October 2.

"The spacecraft will go through a series of final tests and checks, as well as fueling, in the next few weeks as the team prepares for DART’s scheduled launch," NASA said.

DART is an acronym for Double Asteroid Redirection Test.

"DART will be the world’s first mission to test planetary defense techniques, demonstrating one mitigation method of asteroid deflection, called kinetic impact. DART will impact the small asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, which orbits a larger companion, Didymos, in a binary asteroid system to change its orbital period. Although neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth, the collision with Dimorphos enables researchers to demonstrate the deflection technique along with several new technologies, and collect important data to enhance our modeling and predictive capabilities for asteroid deflection. Those enhancements will help us better prepare should an asteroid ever be discovered as a threat to Earth," NASA said on its website