NASA will use a mission in 2021 to ionic propellant with which they will try to hit an asteroid and deflect it.
This is the NASA Commercial Evolutionary Xenon Propeller (NEXT-C) which will be part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test Mission (DART), as published on the website of the North American space agency.
DART will try to demonstrate the deviation of asteroids by kinetic impact, a technique that could prevent a dangerous asteroid from impacting Earth by changing the motion of the star in space.
That is why the mission, whose scheduled date to start is July 22 of next year, has the main objective impact a binary asteroid system and study the feasibility of this technique.
NEXT-C will target the Didymos binary asteroid system, 11 million km from Earth, which It is made up of two space rocks: one 780 meters and the other 160. The purpose of the mission is to impact the second of them. This is expected to occur in September 2021.
Prior to this, the propeller will drop 6 cubesats, small satellites provided by the Italian Space Agency called LICIA, which will capture the images of the collision and send the data back to Earth.
The impact is estimated to move Didymos B’s orbital velocity by half a millimeter per second, enough for ground-based telescopes to detect a change in its period of rotation over time, causing a crater about 20 meters in diameter.
But, in addition, a European Space Agency (ESA) mission called Hera will be launched in 2024, which hopes to reach the damaged asteroid in 2027 to analyze the effect caused by DART. Also rwill collect more data from the binary asteroid system.
When the propulsion system is successfully demonstrated on DART, NEXT-C will be considered on a variety of unmanned missions from 10 to 15 years that could include going to other asteroids, comets, or planets like Venus, they noted from NASA.