How NASA's DART mission aims to crash an unmanned spacecraft against asteroid in 'defensive test'

WION Web Team
Washington Published: Jul 05, 2021, 03:38 PM(IST)

Representative image of a near-Earth asteroid Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

According to NASA, it will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.

NASA's superlative new project known as Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) aims to demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space heading towards the Earth.

The initiative aims to shift an asteroid's orbit through kinetic impact. In a live show of the demonstration, the US space agency plans to test it on moonlet Didymos launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, reports say.

Watch:

The unmanned spacecraft is expected to travel millions of miles into space and crash against the Didymos moonlet. NASA also plans to take pictures of the event by sending a small spacecraft that will separate from DART to take live pictures of the crash.

NASA hopes to capture valuable data when the event occurs in real-time in order to assess how it could look if a real-life scenario takes place in the future. The mission is said to be purely a "defence-driven test" which will help in preventing an impact on the Earth of a hazardous asteroid.

According to NASA, it will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.

The project right now is reportedly in Phase C at Marshall Space Flight Center at NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

The space agency said the DART spacecraft will achieve the "kinetic impact" deflection by deliberately crashing itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6.6 km per second with the help of autonomous navigation software.

NASA said the launch window begins later this year from  November 2021 and it will launch aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 and is expected to collide against Didymos moonlet in September, 2022.

NASA says the “moonlet” is about 160 meters which is the likely size of an asteroid that could threaten the Earth in the future. The scientists are currently studying its properties minutely before DART crashes into it.

(With inputs from Agencies)

Read in App