NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are planning to examine our planet’s defenses to see whether we can effectually protect ourselves from the alleged asteroid impacts. However, all scientists can say so far is nothing.
The space rock targeted for the space agencies’ plans is the asteroid Didymos B, which has a 160 meters diameter, and it is the twin of a binary asteroid system. Didymos B cycles the broader space rock Didymos A every 11.92 hours; this will apparently help shape the ultimate success or failure of the plan.
The binary asteroid impact and deflection assessment (AIDA) program created by the ESA and NASA back in 2015, and Earth’s champion chosen for the mission will be NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft. The mission, however, could be a colossal failure, or at least encounter a few complications.
NASA and ESA Plan to Hit the Asteroid Didymos B
When the Japanese space agency JAXA hit the asteroid Ryugu back in April, it created a way more prominent crater than expected. Moreover, the material on the surface of the space rock behaved like sand, which may affect the efficiency of deflection.
The space agencies plan to make DART collide with Didymos B at 23,760 kilometers per hour (14,760mph). Even so, all that force will only impact the asteroid’s velocity with a centimeter per second or so, which could alter the orbital duration from about 12 hours to a sheer matter of minutes.
The program is scheduled to launch in July 2021, and the collision is expected to happen on September 2022. A cubesat known as LICIAcube will disconnect from the DART probe right before the impact, and capture photos of the collision back to the laboratory on Earth for observation. The ESA’s Hera observation spacecraft is set to launch in 2023 and take evidence starting with 2027 to provide a final check of the expedition.