Elon Musk joins forces with Nasa to tackle asteroids

Federico Mansilla
Abril 17, 2019

What is the main objective of NASA's DART mission?

Despite an admission past year that it may be impossible to stop the 8.8 ton asteroid Bennu from annihilating life on Earth, the perennial optimists at NASA have nevertheless granted SpaceX a $ 69 million contract to assist in the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), meant to save Earth from interstellar armageddon.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will get to launch humankind's first planetary defense satellite, which will demonstrate the real world feasibility of using a kinetic impact spacecraft to deflect a small asteroid.

According to NASA, a Falcon 9 rocket will head into space in June 2021 to blast incoming asteroids in the future.

Infographic outlining the DART mission from NASA. "By using solar electric propulsion", NASA says, "DART will intercept the asteroid Didymos' small moon in October 2022, when the asteroid will be within 11 million kilometers of Earth". The mission should prove that DART can deviate risky asteroids which follow a high-threat trajectory.

The impact will be watched by the telescopes on Earth and the astronomers and scientists will be documenting how the collision affects the Didymoon.

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Also, the mission has another target as well. Their theory is that if you hit an object with a dense and fast spacecraft, you can alter the trajectory of an asteroid and avoid an impact with our planet.

The DART mission and the AIDA mission are interconnected. Didymos poses no threat to Earth.

"These events are still rare and far between that I'm not too anxious about it", said Mazrouei. DART aims to learn more about asteroids and the way they react to a kinetic force. "We are proposing to NASA a new telescope, the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), to do a much more comprehensive job of mapping asteroid locations and measuring their sizes", Mainzer said. An average of 30 new discoveries is added every week.

Furthermore, NASA explained that no asteroid can be shot down in the last few minutes or hours before impact because the velocity of an asteroid is at an average of 12 miles per second.

Lastly, research has shown that the best technique to divert an asteroid from its impact course largely depends on the scenario.

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