Nasa recruits SpaceX to smash Falcon rockets into asteroids

An illustration of NASA's DART mission scheduled to launch in 2021. Image Credit NASA

An illustration of NASA's DART mission scheduled to launch in 2021. Image Credit NASA

NASA revealed on Friday that it had selected SpaceX to provide the launch services for the upcoming DART mission. The approach has been proposed as the way to deflect an asteroid from collision with Earth.

How will mankind deal with it?

This isn't some fanciful mission dreamed up by Elon Musk following a stint on the Joe Rogan Experience, but rather NASA's own Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.

NASA's radical mission to fire a small spacecraft directly into an asteroid now has SpaceX on the roster, too.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will supervise the DART mission with support from NASA units such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, and Johnson Space Center.

What's The Objective Of The DART Mission?

Researchers will measure the effect of the impact, as they attempt to calculate the amount of kinetic energy which is required to modify the orbit of a smaller object around a larger one.

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid (65803) Didymos.

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NASA is intending to use the technology for the first time in October 2022, when it plans to intercept an asteroid which will at that point be 11 million kilometers from Earth. The mission switched to dedicated launch many months ago.

Dr Mainzer was also due to explain how NASA works with the global space community in an worldwide effort to defend the planet from NEO impact. AIDA will begin as soon as a spacecraft from DART purposefully crashes into the moon of the asteroid Didymos.

After three years, the Hera spacecraft will then arrive on Didymos's moon to analyze it as well as the crater left by the impact.

So far, NASA and ESA have not identified any potentially unsafe space rocks that pose a catastrophic threat on Earth in the near future. DART aims to learn more about asteroids and the way they react to a kinetic force.

NASA's top asteroid hunter wants to build a new telescope to defend the Earth from the unsafe space rocks that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Dr Mainzer added a new telescope could also be used to study ancient comets and asteroids. This is why prevention is the best option. It could depend on the choice of method for impact mitigation, and also on the orbit of the asteroid, its composition, bulk properties, and relative velocity, NASA said.

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