There will be a major crash into an asteroid: the NASA announcement


There will be a major crash into an asteroid: the NASA announcement
Written by aquitodovale

There are a few weeks to one great crash: we are talking about what will see a spaceship as protagonist, ready to sacrifice itself by intercepting the orbit of a large asteroid. But don’t worry, everything is under control. It is in fact a experiment organized down to the smallest detail by NASA, and the lens has a decidedly sci-fi flavor.

The NASA experiment

Not even a year ago, Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence brought to the big screen the latest film in a long series dedicated to huge asteroids and comets crashing into Earth. Don’t look up it has rekindled in all of us the age-old fear of a threat coming from space and that could completely wipe out humanity. What would happen if, in the future, astronomers identified an object ready to collide with our planet? To answer this question, NASA has developed a very special experiment.

In a few weeks, the robotic spaceship DART – costing $ 330 million – will deliberately crash into an asteroid. The probe, built for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART, in fact) project, has been traveling in space for months now and is targeting a celestial body already well known by astronomers, called Dimorphos. According to the experts, the crash should take place in the early hours of September 27, 2022at a speed of about 4 miles per second (or more than 6,000 meters per second).

In doing so, the scientists intend to understand if it is possible to deviate the course of an asteroid: if in the future we were to discover one ready to crash into the Earth, we will have one more resource to avoid it. Everything has been designed with the utmost attention, starting with the objective chosen for the mission. Dimorphos is in fact an asteroid-satellite of about 160 meters that orbits a much larger asteroid, Didymos. After it crashNASA will be able to more easily analyze the deflection of the celestial body, based on its path around the main asteroid.

The risk of impact with an asteroid

As anticipated, the goal of the new NASA project is to find out if, with a planned crash, an asteroid (or another celestial body) can be deflected on a collision course against Earth. “We know that asteroids hit us in the past. These impacts are a natural process and will happen again in the future” – explained the professor. Alan Fitzsimmonsastronomer at Queen’s University in Belfast – “We’d like to stop the most dangerous ones. The problem is, we’ve never tested the technology needed to do that. That’s what DART is all about.”

In fact, in the history of our planet there have been some crashes that have had a disastrous impact. Like the one that occurred 66 million years ago: a huge 10 km wide asteroid hit Chicxulub, Mexico, giving rise to an explosion equal to several billion atomic bombs. According to the calculations of experts, this would have been the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, together with the destruction of most of the life forms present on Earth at the time. Today, of course, an asteroid of this size would not go unnoticed e we would be ready for a possible crash very well in advance.

“We know where the large asteroids are, and we know that none of those detected will come close to our planet for the next 200 years or so,” said Fitzsimmons. However, there are much smaller celestial bodies which have not yet been identified, and which could hit Earth in the future. Some of them, despite their small size, could cause serious damage and destroy entire cities – that’s why the NASA experiment is so important. “DART is the first step in making sure we have the right technology for face the threat“.


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