NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) launched Wednesday on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Base in California.

NASA's DART mission
NASA’s DART mission

If you ask any ghost of Dinosaurs about what they hate most, they will undoubtedly say that is an “Asteroid

The threat of potentially hazardous objects like asteroids hitting on earth’s surface is not fun.

 

It’s too late for the dinosaurs, but today astronomers are conducting ever-increasing searches to identify all of the larger objects which pose an impact danger to Earth and trying to deflect its orbit or destroy them. 

DART

One of the important missions of NASA on Asteroid impact avoidance is DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test)

DART’s goal is to test the technology for planetary defense by deflecting the orbit and motion of potentially hazardous asteroids. 

It is built and directed by Johns Hopkins APL (Applied Physics Laboratory) in Maryland, US.

This test spacecraft can steer and navigate autonomously to the targeted asteroid to deliberately impact it. This way of deflection is called Kinetic Impact.

 

LICIACube is a Cubsat (Nano Satellite) designed and delivered by the Italian Space Agency that rides along with the DART Spacecraft.

The duty of LICIACube is to capture the images and collect enough information about the impact and dust clouds formed by the ejected matters from the asteroid.

DART is a trial experiment mission that will make a one-way trip to the Near-Earth asteroid system called Didymos. 

DART is targeting the Dimorphos asteroid which is a moonlet in this asteroid system that is sized approximately 160 meters in diameter.

DART will make a critical impact on the Dimorphos asteroid at a speed of 4 miles per second (6 kilometers per second). 

This much impact will slow down the asteroid by several minutes.

By observing the asteroid through telescopes on earth, researchers can measure the velocity difference of the asteroid accurately after the kinetic impact.

Scientists placed an instrument inside the DART Spacecraft.

It will provide the first images from the spacecraft before the kinetic impact. 

Andy Cheng, the one who came up with the idea of DART says,

 

 “It is an indescribable feeling to see something you’ve been involved with since the ‘words on paper’ stage become real and launched into space, the teams have much work to do over the next year preparing for the main event ─ DART’s kinetic impact on Dimorphos. But tonight we celebrate!”

Along with the DART Mission, NASA is testing their evolutionary Xenon-Ion thruster engine that will take the DART Spacecraft to the Didymos asteroid system.

“DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all, We’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.”,

 said Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator.

Around after four years of DART’s kinetic impact, European Space Agency’s (ESA) Project Hera will conduct an investigation and detailed survey on the asteroid.

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