The DART mission is stirring up a lot of controversy, and that’s because of its purpose. In it, NASA and ESA intend to try to change the orbit of an asteroid that potentially threatens Earth. Many believe that the agencies are hiding something from us.
Officially, the U.S. and European Space Agency want to see if the technologies currently available will be able to effectively neutralize the threat from deep space. In many sci-fi movies, we have seen the terrifying vision of our civilization being destroyed by a space rock. In the past, giant asteroids have caused global cataclysms that ended up decimating many species of creatures living on our planet.
If such an event were to occur now, the consequences would be lamentable. The achievements of mankind could be lost irretrievably in the blink of an eye, and technologically we would go back to the Middle Ages. However, NASA and ESA have a plan to prevent such a situation. It has been implemented for several years, although it is not a topic that we will hear about from the front pages of newspapers and websites.
Scientists from around the world are jointly preparing a mission called Asteroid Impact and Deflectiona Assessment (AIDA). It includes a special probe called Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM/HERA) and the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) vehicle, which will aim to fly to the asteroid Didymos (65803). A few days ago we received news that ESA, in addition to the large HERA probe, is planning to send two more CubeSat microsatellites near asteroids. The task of these small but technologically powerful devices will be a preliminary but detailed study of the objects, while the probe itself will observe the impact of the NASA vehicle on the asteroid and later reconnoiter the entire event.
Didymos is actually two objects. The main asteroid is 780 meters in diameter and also has a satellite with a diameter of 160 meters. Meanwhile, NASA wants to make an impact on the asteroid with the help of a device called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The asteroid Didymos will be about 11 million kilometers from Earth in October 2022. However, the mission is expected to begin a year earlier. The task of the device will be to hit the asteroid and change its trajectory so that it does not hit our planet.
According to the plan, the 300-kilogram probe will hit the smaller asteroid at a speed of 6 km/s (22,000 km/h). It will be the first mission in the history of mankind to test the so-called “asteroid”. kinetic impact technology on a space rock. Didymos belongs to the Apollo group of objects that threaten our planet, which is why it’s such a great object for astronomers to study to create a system to protect Earth.
NASA has announced that SpaceX will be involved in one of the most breakneck missions in human history, worth $69 million. The role of Elon Musk’s people will be to successfully launch the vehicle into space using a Falcon-9 rocket, with the launch expected to take place in June 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the AIDA mission to succeed and for the scientists to achieve their goals. For the peaceful future of our existence on the Blue Planet will depend on it.