Astronomers need to know for sure if they have the right technology to redirect asteroids from their initial trajectory or not. That’s why NASA is preparing for the DART mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), which will imply the attempt to change the orbit of the small asteroid called Dimorphos, a rock revolving around a larger one known as 65803 Didymos. DART will simply smash into the smaller asteroid.
You may have already guessed the reasoning behind the experiment. A large and dangerous asteroid might approach Earth one day and threaten our existence as a species, so astronomers need to find a way to get rid of it.
NASA will broadcast the collision on YouTube this Monday
NASA will broadcast on YouTube this Monday the experiment to change the orbit of Dimorphos, according to ArsTechnica. The collision itself is the easiest part of the mission, while astronomers will still need some time to find out if the orbit has been successfully altered or not. It will probably last months.
Nancy Chabot, the coordination lead of DART from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Research Laboratory, spoke about the DRACO instrument (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation) that’s mounted on DART, as Space.com quotes:
The DRACO images, I just want to stress, are going to be pretty spectacular,
The same scientist continues, according to the same source:
You’re going to be coming into an asteroid that nobody’s ever seen before,
You’re going to see things that are tens of centimeters in size for that final image and then it’s going to cut off. I think that’s going to be pretty cool.
NASA is constantly on the lookout for dangerous space rocks approaching our planet. It hasn’t found anything so far, but the Universe is big enough to provide unpleasant surprises at any time.