NASA’s ‘Armageddon’-style asteroid deflection mission takes off in November – TechCrunch

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NASA has a launch date for that almost all Hollywood of missions, the Double Asteroid Redirection Check, which is principally a dry run of the film “Armageddon.” In contrast to the movie, this is not going to contain nukes, oil rigs or Aerosmith, however as a substitute is a sensible take a look at of our capacity to vary the trajectory of an asteroid in a major and predictable means.

The DART mission, managed by the Planetary Protection Coordination Workplace (!), includes sending a pair of satellites out to a comparatively close by pair of asteroids, referred to as the Didymos binary. It’s one large-ish asteroid, roughly 780 meters throughout — that’s Didymos correct — and a 160-meter “moonlet” in its orbit.

Because the moonlet is extra typical of the sort prone to threaten Earth — there being extra asteroids which are that dimension and never simply noticed — we might be testing the opportunity of intercepting one by smashing into it at almost 15,000 miles per hour. It will change the pace of the moonlet by a mere fraction of a p.c, however sufficient that its orbit interval might be affected measurably. Understanding precisely how a lot will assist us plan any future asteroid-deflection missions — not surprisingly, there isn’t quite a lot of present science on ramming your spacecraft into house rocks.

A companion spacecraft, known as the Mild Italian CubeSat for Think about Asteroids, or LICIACube, simply had the ending touches placed on it final week and might be launched shortly earlier than the operation and can try to fly by on the very second of influence and seize “the resultant plume of ejecta and probably the newly-formed influence crater.”

A really thrilling and attention-grabbing mission to make certain, however needed to be delayed previous its authentic launch window of this summer time, and November 23 marks the primary day of the brand new launch window. DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg in Southern California at 10:20 PM on that date, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

With Osiris-Rex and Japan’s Hayabusa-2 missions, Earth authorities are getting fairly good at reaching out and touching asteroids. We’ll know extra in regards to the plan of assault on the Didymos binary within the run-up to launch.

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