We all have learned in our science classes that an asteroid of a size of a big metropolitan city wiped out the dinosaurs million years ago. Since the beginning of industrial revolution mankind has rapidly raised in terms of technology. Since 50s we also have excelled in the field of Space. After the moon the next big step for us is Mars. But meanwhile the only thing which have became a bigger challenge is what if an asteroid collide with earth today.
A massive asteroid collision in near future is likely and can happen anytime.
But if scientists become aware of the threat of a hazardous asteroid early enough, they might be able to give it enough of a nudge to knock it off its disastrous course, long before it approached Earth. That’s the basic idea behind NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, known as DART. It’s a spacecraft that has been set to launch in 2021, on course to collision with an asteroid in the fall of 2022.
“It will be the first-ever asteroid deflection test,” said Megan Bruck Syal, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and member of the DART team. She points out that there could be tens of thousands of asteroids as big as DART’s target, and the majority of them haven’t been discovered, let alone tracked, yet.
DART has its sights set on the smaller member of a binary near-Earth asteroid system called Didymos, which NASA classifies as “potentially hazardous” since its orbit brings it near the Earth within one-twentieth the distance between our planet and the Sun. The main asteroid in the system spans 2,600 feet (800 meters) across, while its orbiting “moonlet,” which DART is aimed at, measures about 500 feet (150 meters) in size. By going after a binary system, it will be easier to precisely measure the deflection and use the data to inform future missions should a real asteroid threat materialize.
DART’s main body is about the size of a small car, with added solar arrays. It weighs more than 1,100 pounds. It will be traveling about 14,000 mph when it crashes into the city block-sized moonlet. Scientists expect the collision to change the moonlet’s velocity by just 1 millimeter per second, about 0.002 miles per hour. A nudge like that barely changes the asteroid’s course, but if done years before a projected impact, it can make all the difference.
The more time before the collision we will have, the better will be the chances of our survival. Its one of the first of its own kind of mission which is taking place, which holds potential to write the journey of mankind on earth.