NASA to test planetary defence system: Significance of DART mission

By: |
November 12, 2021 12:50 PM

The mission, which has been named Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) , will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 24.

After the mission has collided with the asteroid, scientists will study its impact on the trajectory of the asteroid with a range of telescopes deployed on different regions of the planet.After the mission has collided with the asteroid, scientists will study its impact on the trajectory of the asteroid with a range of telescopes deployed on different regions of the planet. (Representative image )

American space agency NASA in a unique mission is going to test its first planetary defense test mission that will allow a spacecraft to crash into the target asteroid deliberately and force it to change its course. The mission, which has been named Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) , will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 24, the Indian Express reported.

Which asteroid is being targeted by the DART mission?
A moonlet called Dimorphos which is 160 metre in diameter will be made to collide with the spacecraft when it is hovering at a distance of about 11 million kilometre from the Earth. A larger asteroid of diameter 780 metres which has been named Didymos is surrounded by Dimorphos. While the asteroid has not been considered a threat at all, the mission is being tested to ensure that in case an asteroid comes menacingly closer to the living planet in future scientists have a way to tackle that.

The spacecraft will intentionally collide with the asteroid at a speed of 6.6 kilometres per second or 24,000 kilometres per hour. The collision with the asteroid is expected to happen almost a year later between September 26 and October 1, 2022. Scientists have also termed the mission a “suicide mission”owing to the fact that nothing of the spacecraft will remain intact as it will get completely destroyed post its collission with the asteroid.

How huge is the SpaceX spacecraft
A considerably low-cost spacecraft DART weighs about 610 KG at the time of its launch and will shed a little of its weight during its flight and weigh about 550 KG during the impact. The spacecraft has been appended with a high-resolution imager called Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) which will give precise images and information to the scientists to study the impact of the collision on the trajectory of the asteroid. After the mission has collided with the asteroid, scientists will study its impact on the trajectory of the asteroid with a range of telescopes deployed on different regions of the planet.

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