'Killer Double Asteroid' to hit Earth? NASA, ESA team up to deflect collision

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 20 August 2019, 11:54 AM
Killer Double Asteroid: NASA will launch a program known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
Killer Double Asteroid: NASA will launch a program known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

A 'Killer Double Asteroid' is approaching towards Earth. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are teaming up to deflect the massive Didymos asteroid system, its gigantic moon and save Earth from getting destroyed. Didymos is an asteroid system composed of a large space rock that’s about 2,500 feet long with a moon of about 540 feet wide. NASA will launch a program known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission involves deflecting an asteroid by crashing a spacecraft on it. DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.

Astrophysicist Brian May speaking of Europe’s contribution to an international planetary defence test said: “If we’re going to find out if it’s possible to deflect Didymos, it is going to be really, really hard. Aiming at a 160-metre-wide target across millions of kilometres of void.

NASA will first carry out its DART mission on Didymos. Following which ESA will launch Hera to the asteroid system to study DART’s effect on the space rock.

"First, NASA will crash its DART spacecraft into the smaller asteroid – known as Didymoon – before ESA’s Hera comes in to map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass,” ESA said in a statement.

"Hera will carry two CubeSats on board, which will be able to fly much closer to the asteroid’s surface, carrying out crucial scientific studies, before touching down. Hera’s up-close observations will turn asteroid deflection into a well-understood planetary defence technique,” the agency added.

Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. You must be aware that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to our planet and also to human life. The effects of an asteroid strike—tsunamis, shock waves, and flattening winds, could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. In recent days, we all have heard about many asteroids including 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others going past through our planet. Although these asteroids were really close to Earth, but we were really fortunate.

According to a report of spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. It further added that asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

First Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 09:50 AM
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