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NASA and ESA join for a historic planetary defense test



  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) work together for missions in a binary asteroid system.
  • The missions of DART and Hera will try to divert and explore the asyroid Didymoon.
  • The planetary defense system is important to prevent large-scale catastrophes.

It's not just an exaggeration in Hollywood that an asteroid strike that collides with the Earth will be catastrophic. Depending on the size of the asteroid, the effects can range from millions of dead to the end of life. Cities are destroyed. The climate has changed forever. Do you remember the dinosaurs?

In order to prevent such events, space agencies around the world are developing approaches to planetary protection. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) united in a historic first Earth Security test with missions aimed at killing an asteroid.

The Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) is specifically aimed at an asteroid duet, consisting of a 780-meter asteroid called Didymos and its smaller orbital rock called Didymoon. It is the size of the pyramid in Giza (1

60 m).

The plan of the NASA DART mission is to launch a probe in 2020-2021, which will reach Didymoon by October 2022.

This NASA animation shows how the double asteroid redirect (DART) test will focus on the smaller (left) Didymoon.

The mission of EKA Hera from 2026, the Diddymoon cubic satellite, after the impact, to investigate what happened and whether the orbit of the asteroid around the larger rock has changed. The Hera probe, which will be commissioned in 2023, will also collect information on the mass and surface properties of the asteroid as well as explore the crater left by DART. CubeSat is likely to land near the poles of the asteroid.

"This will give us a good estimate of the transfer of inertia to impact, and hence its effectiveness as a technique of diversion," adds Michael Kuppers, a scientist from the Hera project. "These are the basic parameters that allow the validation of numerical impact patterns necessary for the design of future diversion missions." We will better understand if this technique can be used even for larger asteroids, which gives us the certainty that we can to protect our planet if necessary. " ] Credit: ESA

Mission Infographics. Giant rocks do not currently pose a threat to the Earth and are chosen because they will be seven million miles from our planet even at their closest point. Besides, Didymoon, who will be the smallest asteroid ever visited, is useful for studying because his size makes him more at risk. Such scales are more difficult to track. If it happens to collapse on Earth, the ensuing disaster will be terrifying on a regional scale.

The missions will also help us better understand the binary asteroid systems, which make up about 15% of the discovered asteroids. They will also test technology that may be useful for the prosperous field of asteroid extraction.

Asteroids and Comets Visited by a Spacecraft from the Earth

Planetary Society

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