Why is Nasa smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid with the Dart mission?

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, which was launched on Wednesday, may be the first to modify an asteroid’s route, a method that might one day be employed to safeguard the planet. In 2017, scientists predicted that an asteroid the size of a cruise ship might hit Japan in the following decade.

At an annual planetary defence meeting in Tokyo, scientists and government officials from NASA and other space organisations swiftly formulated a strategy to divert the asteroid’s route away from Earth. The destiny of the island hinged on the deployment of a fleet of robotic spacecraft in the coming years.

The world’s space agencies joined together in 2020, deploying four spacecraft toward the threatening space rock. The ships, known as kinetic impactors, slammed into their targets square in the face. Japan was spared a massive evacuation effort, and its cities and communities were spared destruction.

None of these occurrences really occurred. It was a simulation, similar to the tabletop role-playing games that government officials engage in on a regular basis. Deflecting an asteroid from outer space on its route to a disastrous collision with Earth has been a popular option for preserving the planet during these practise drills. However, no one knows if the method will truly work. Never before in human history has anyone attempted to deflect an asteroid away from our planet.

So, In this article we will discuss Why is Nasa smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid with the Dart mission?

What happened after the launching so when does it?

Its DART spacecraft was launched on Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. Eastern standard time from the Bergen Space Force Base in Californian. aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket made it to orbit before returning to Earth and landing on a SpaceX drone ship with its reusable booster. The spacecraft will be launched into orbit in about an hour, and solar panels will be unfurled hours later to power the ship on its voyage.

The launch was broadcast live on NASA’s YouTube account beginning at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday. You can also view it in the video player above. From the launchpad, SpaceX had its own live video stream.NASA has offered a guide to where individuals in Southern California might be able to see the spacecraft as it departs the atmosphere assuming the night skies are not too hazy.

Can the goal be carried out?

After launching, the spacecraft will round the sun approximately one full circuit before crashing with Dimorphos, a futbol asteroid that circles a bigger asteroid called Didymos every 11 hours and 55 minutes. The two asteroids are known as a binary system because one is a mini-moon to the other. Every two years, the two asteroids complete one full circle around the sun.

The expedition is merely target practise for Dimorphos, who presents no threat to Earth. DART will collide with Planet in late September and early October of next year, at a distance of 6.8 million miles.

The DART spacecraft, technically known as a kinetic impactor, will direct itself right at Dimorphos four hours before impact, at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour. Until 20 seconds before impact, an onboard camera will take and broadcast photographs to Earth in real time.

A small Italian Satellite Launch aircraft will fly as close as 34 miles from the asteroid in the moments preceding up to and following DART’s collision, capturing images every six seconds.

What is NASA’s motivation for colliding with a meteor?

For the first time, NASA is slamming DART into an asteroid to test a form of planetary defence that might one day spare a city, or even the entire world, from a devastating asteroid impact.In an interview, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson noted that DART is somewhat of a rerun of Bruce Willis’s movie, ‘Armageddon,’ albeit that was completely fake.

DART will be a verified weapon in NASA’s planetary defence arsenal if all goes according to plan. If another asteroid comes dangerously near to hitting with Earth, the worlds largest space agencies are optimistic that an impact missile like DART will be able to divert it.

How can NASA be able to tell whether DART was a success?

Earth’s telescopes will focus their lenses on the impact location, revealing the two asteroids as tiny reflected sunshine spots. Astronomers will watch the period between one flash of light indicating Dimorphos has passed in front of Didymos and another indicating Dimorphos has orbited behind Didymos to see if DART’s collision affected Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos.

If Dimorphos’ orbit above Didymos is extended for at least 73 seconds, DART will have fulfilled its mission.The collision, however, is expected to prolong the asteroid’s orbit by between 10 and 20 minutes, according to mission organisers.

Why can’t Mother just detonate asteroids that pose a hazard to the globe?

Simply striking dangerous space rocks with a nuclear bomb, like in Armageddon and other science fiction catastrophe movies, might generate a field of additional dangerous space rocks, expanding rather than removing the hazards presented to Earth.Still, if utilised correctly, a nuclear bomb is one of a few hypothetical options in NASA’s planetary defence arsenal.

A mission like DART has a fairly decent possibility of getting the job done for any tiny and distant asteroids that may endanger Earth in the next several decades, according to Brent Barbee, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

However, if the asteroid is any larger, or if the warning period is any shorter,” Mr. Barbee explained, then you’re looking at nuclear weapons instead of kinetic impactors.Astronomers and officials from numerous space organisations have used nuclear explosions to mimic pushing an asteroid away from Earth.

Also read: What is the Goal of the Dard Mission?

Are there any comets heading our way right now?

Asteroids passing near to our planet make headlines all the time. According to NASA, Earth should be secure from dangerous space rocks for the next century.

The organisation keeps track of near-Earth objects that pass within 28 million miles of the planet. An asteroid between 50 and 100 feet in diameter will pass Earth in the next several days, arriving within 511,246 miles on Thanksgiving. 

So far, NASA has tracked around 27,000 of these objects, which is just about 40% of the total number the agency is entrusted with detecting under its Near-Earth Object Observations Program.The Sentry Risk Table, which is a distinct list of asteroids with a higher possibility of colliding with Earth, is also maintained by NASA (though the chances remain extremely low).

Bennu, a gravelly, acorn-shaped asteroid approximately the size of a skyscraper, is one of the stars on that list. Between both the years 2178 and 2290, it has a 0.057% probability of colliding with Earth.

Conclusion 

Nasa has began its mission to crash a spacecraft with an asteroid. The mission is a warm-up for the eventuality that humanity must stop a giant space asteroid from killing life on Earth.The DART (Dual Comet Redirection Test) mission sailed from Marshall Space Force Base in Mexico on a SpaceX rockets as a real solid evidence mission.

NASA will test its asteroid deflection technology in September 2022, after it launches in November, to observe how it affects the course of a near-Earth asteroid in orbit.Dimorphos, a tiny moon circling the near-Earth asteroid Didymos, is the target of this asteroid deflection device. This will be the first full-scale demonstration of this technology for planetary defence by the agency.

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