On a movie-worthy suicide mission, NASA has conducted humanity’s first test of defending Earth from space objects. It was 00:14 on Tuesday in Portugal — 19:14 on Monday on the east coast of the United States — when the 550-kilogram Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft “successfully” collided with the 160-meter-long asteroid Demorphos. in diameter. It happened 9.6 million kilometers away and at a speed of 22,500 kilometers per hour, with a collision orbiting space rocks, and the moon orbiting Didymos (780 meters in diameter), a system of two asteroids discovered in 1996. If the collision has the desired effect and for this reason it is necessary to wait a few days.
The probe was “doomed” from the start. The goal was to test the ability to alter the asteroid’s path. Although it does not pose a threat to Earth, NASA explains that the purpose of the mission was to test a technology that could be used to defend the planet against potential dangers. Because it is about 100 times smaller than Demorphos, the probe did not destroy the asteroid. But that was not the point. The idea was to change the speed and trajectory of the orb. Mission officials likened the procedure to “a golf cart hitting one of the great pyramids of Egypt” with power to leave a hole.
In the future, the project has the support of the European Space Agency – in 2024 the Hera mission to study the phenomenon was launched – and with Portuguese technology to validate the true impact.
Earth-based observatories will now monitor the asteroid system, after a mission prepared over the years that kept the probe in space for ten months.
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