Probe Begins Journey That Ends with Crash on Space Rock
If a space rock ever comes straight for Earth, is it still possible to avoid the impending catastrophe? Of course, it always works in movies, but the United States will try a new mission to see if it works in reality.
The spacecraft is called DART, short for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The DART will be launched on Wednesday. This is done from space base Vandenberg in California.
The DART goes to two rocks orbiting the sun right next to each other. One is Didymos, a rock 780 meters in diameter; the other is its 160-meter large moon Dimorphous. DART should hit Dimorphos by the end of next year.
At impact, the probe has a speed of about 6 kilometres per second. It then remains to be seen whether Dimorphos is knocked out of his orbit around Didymos a little bit as a result. Nothing like this has ever been attempted.
The destination is not a threat to the Earth. “The galaxy is a perfect place to test whether it is possible to alter the course of an asteroid by deliberately hitting a spacecraft at it,” NASA said.
For the time being, there is no threat to the Earth at all, emphasizes the space agency. Billions of asteroids and comets revolve around the sun. Several tens of thousands of them could one day pose a threat to Earth, but they won’t come anywhere near us for at least the next 100 years.