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A NASA spacecraft was launched into space with a mission to test whether the future technology can shift the orbit of asteroids that may endanger the Earth.
This sounds a bit like the storyline of an American Hollywood movie, but Nasa’s “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” (Dart for short) mission is for exactly that purpose.
The Dart spacecraft will hit an asteroid called Dimorphos to test how its speed and orbit change after the impact.
If an asteroid with a width of hundreds of meters collides with the Earth, it may cause damage to the entire continent.
This mission is the first attempt to hit an asteroid to study how to deviate its orbit to protect the Earth, but this Dimophos asteroid does not pose a threat to the Earth.
NASA said that the target asteroid does not pose a threat to the Earth, and it will not pose a new threat after the impact, so it is very suitable for this type of impact test.
The “Falcon 9” rocket carrying the Dart spacecraft was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Wednesday (November 24).
The Dart spacecraft with a cost of 325 million U.S. dollars (240 million pounds) will be released from the gravity of the earth and continue to fly around the sun after launch. Asteroid.
The Dart spacecraft will hit the Dimophos asteroid at a speed of 6.6 kilometers per second, which should cause its speed to change by less than one millimeter per second. Such a slight change is enough to change its orbit. If the asteroid really threatens the earth, it will be enough to prevent its deflection orbit from hitting the earth.
Di Dimos and another asteroid called “Di Di Mos” orbit each other and are called Binary Star System in astronomy. Di Di Mos is larger in size and about 780 meters wide. Di Di Mos Sri Lanka is relatively small, about 160 meters wide.
If a star the size of Dimophos exploded, it could release a destructive power several times more than that of an ordinary nuclear bomb, causing tens of thousands of deaths and injuries. Asteroids of 300 meters and larger will cause more damage than a continent on the earth, and asteroids of more than 1,000 meters will cause destruction all over the world.
The Dart spacecraft comes with a camera, Draco, which can provide images of two asteroids, allowing the spacecraft to point in the right direction and hit the Dimophos asteroid.
Approximately 10 days before the scheduled impact, the Dart spacecraft will also release a small satellite LiciaCube. This small satellite will return images of the spacecraft hitting the asteroid, the debris smoke caused by the impact, and the impact depression on the asteroid surface .
Scientists will measure the orbital deviation from the impact of Dimophos from the Earth. NASA project scientist Tom Statler said, “What we want to know is: whether we really let asteroids The track offset, and how is the effect?”
He said, “There are a lot more asteroids than large planets. If there is anything that might threaten the earth, it should be an asteroid of this size.”
In 2005, the U.S. Congress requested the Space Agency to track near-Earth asteroids more than 140 meters wide. As a result, no asteroids of this size were found to pose an immediate threat to the Earth.