NASA will Launch a Spacecraft Against an Asteroid to ‘Save Earth’

The NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are designing a project called AIDA that aims to protect the Earth against a possible collision with an asteroid.

This plan started in 2015, but recently scientists have made great progress.

The AIDA project seeks to send a spacecraft into space that collides with a certain asteroid near the Earth and begins the diversion of its orbit to avoid the impact.

 If this works, without leaving important effects for the planet, it could be the solution to future threats.

According to Science Alert, the scientists of NASA and ESA met in September to show the progress of a mission that launched into space in April 2019.

The spacecraft Hayabusa2 created by JAXA, was struck against the asteroid Ryugu.

The result of the crash was a crater much larger than expected in the asteroid. In addition, a material on its surface very similar to sand was detached, which motivates more to believe in the effectiveness of the diversion plan.

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As part of AIDA , NASA and ESA have been carrying out different missions. However, the most important and decisive is the double asteroid redirection test (DART).

This mission will be led by NASA with the support of several specialized centers. It could be described as one of the final tests that will really prove the defense of the Earth against a dangerous asteroid.

The plan will be executed in July 2021. DART will be sent to space to hit its target, the near- Earth binary asteroid, Didymos. The impact is projected to occur after 14 months of being launched, in September 2022.

Once DART arrives in space, a small cube called LICIA cube will separate from it, Science Alert explains. The mission of this object is to take photos of the collision that it will then send to Earth to see the results.

The second important mission to finally verify the effectiveness of the diversion is Hera, led by ESA.

This ship will be launched in 2023 and its arrival in Didymos is expected to be four years later, in 2027.

Thanks to Hera, which is an observation spacecraft, you can see in detail the consequences of the impact between Didymos and DART.

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Didymos is a binary system, it consists of a large asteroid that is orbited by a small ‘moon’. This moon is also known as Didymoon or Didymos B.

It is against the latter that it will be sent to DART to impact it. It is about 160 meters in diameter and is close to Earth; however, it represents no danger, fortunately.

Precisely, it is this quality that made it chosen as the objective of the mission.

 It is relatively close to the planet, but has no direction towards it, which makes it perfect for testing without having counterproductive results.

“The goal of DART, Didymos, is an ideal candidate for the first planetary defense experiment of mankind. (…) Its binary nature allows DART to test and evaluate the effects of a kinetic impactor,” reaffirms Nancy Chabot, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Laboratory of Applied Physics.

The other asteroid of Didymos, Didymos A, has 780 meters in diameter.




Source: Larepublica