NASA and SpaceX launched a probe that will collide with the asteroid

On November 24, NASA’s DART mission was launched on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After disconnecting from the rocket, she started the ion engine and continues to move on its own. The abbreviation expansion is Double Asteroid Redirection Test, but in direct translation, “dart” is “arrow”. With this arrow, NASA wants to see if it is possible to change the asteroid’s trajectory so that in the future this technology can be used to defend the Earth from impact when such a threat arises. NASA emphasizes that the DART mission is just a test of technology, and the asteroid it hits does not threaten the security of our planet.

NASA will crash the probe into an asteroid

The target of the DART mission is the binary asteroid Didymos (65803). The main asteroid of the system is about 780 meters in diameter, but NASA is more interested in the second, smaller element of the binary system orbiting the main asteroid. The smaller object is 160 meters in diameter and is typical of asteroids that may endanger Earth in the future. DART’s journey to the Didymos asteroid will take 10 months.

The DART will alter the asteroid’s course by hitting a smaller object at 6.6 km / s (23,760 km / h). The strike will be carried out autonomously, without the involvement of operators on Earth. The on-board DRACO camera and the probe’s navigation system will be used for this. The impact will change the orbital speed of the smaller object by a fraction of a percent, which in turn will change the orbit period by a few minutes. This will be a big enough change to be seen from Earth.

NASA is testing an ion engine that is expected to be the future of space travel

The DART mission will also test the NEXT-C ion electric motor powered by solar panels, which will allow the probe to reach its destination. The advantage of ion engines is their efficiency, which is about 10 times greater than that of other chemical rocket engines. However, it can only be used in outer space, as it will not produce enough power in a sufficiently short time to overcome Earth’s gravity.

The DART mission is scheduled to reach the Didymos asteroid in September 2022, then it will be 11 million kilometers from Earth.

Also read:
SpaceX showed the new largest rocket in the world. It’s 120 meters long and will take people to Mars


About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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