NASA is about to send a spacecraft into a giant meteorite at 23760 km / h to save the Earth

Tram Ho

NASA is currently preparing for an ambitious new space mission: Testing a method to deflect the orbit of a meteorite that is likely to collide with Earth with a spacecraft. This test is called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test).

To test the feasibility of the project, NASA selected the target as the Dimorphos asteroid system. In Greek, the name Dimorphos means “twin”. Accordingly, this meteorite system was first discovered in 2003 with up to 2 meteorites, including Dimorphos A (780m in diameter) and Dimorphos B (160m in diameter), which orbit around Dimorphos A.

NASA sắp cho tàu vũ trụ lao vào thiên thạch khổng lồ ở tốc độ 23760 km/h để cứu Trái Đất - Ảnh 1.

The Dimorphos . asteroid system

According to astronomers, Dimorphos belongs to a group of potentially dangerous meteorites that could flatten a city if it collided with Earth. In 2003, Dimorphos flew past Earth at a distance of 7.18 million km. According to calculations, Dimorphos will come close to Earth again in 2123 at a distance of 5.9 million km. Because Dimorphos is the largest of the asteroids likely to come close to Earth, it was the perfect choice to test NASA’s deflection scheme.

According to the latest announcement from NASA, the DART spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 10:20 pm on November 23. Accordingly, when separated from the Falcon 9 rocket, DART will have a journey through space within a year, traveling a total of nearly 11 million km before reaching its target in late September 2022.

NASA sắp cho tàu vũ trụ lao vào thiên thạch khổng lồ ở tốc độ 23760 km/h để cứu Trái Đất - Ảnh 2.

The DART spacecraft is currently being completed by NASA in the final stages to carry out the ‘suicide’ mission

Notably, when reaching the destination, the DART ship will plunge straight into the surface of the Dimorphos B meteorite at extremely fast speeds, up to nearly 24,000 km / h. Then, in October 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will continue to launch a spacecraft called HERA to Dimorphos to study the impact crater caused by the DART spacecraft and study changes in the atmosphere. orbit of Dimorphos B. It is expected that the HERA spacecraft will approach this asteroid system around the end of 2026 and conduct a 6-month survey.

The data collected from Hera will be sent back to Earth, helping scientists to test whether this collision can deflect the asteroid’s flight. From this test result, scientists will consider using a similar method to protect the Earth from the risk of colliding with meteorites in the universe in the not too distant future.

It is known that NASA always closely monitors all near-Earth objects within 1.3 astronomical units (1.3 AU, with 1 AU equal to the distance between the Sun and Earth). To date, the agency has detected more than 8,000 high-risk meteorites lying close to Earth. These meteorites are all larger than 140m in diameter, which could wipe out a huge area on Earth if they collided with the ground.

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Source : Genk