NASA has launched the world’s first “full-scale mission” to take a look at asteroid-deflecting expertise in hopes of defending Earth from potential “Armageddon.”
The house company said in a statement the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) lifted off late Tuesday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vanderberg Space Force Base in California.
The mission of the $330 million mission is to slam into a 530-foot asteroid, Dimorphos, at about 15,000 mph in late September 2022 to take a look at a possible methodology of protection in opposition to doubtlessly catastrophic asteroid or comet hazards.
The mission is “something of a replay of Bruce Willis’ movie, ‘Armageddon,’ although that was totally fictional,” NASA’s administrator, Bill Nelson, told the New York Times.
In the 1998 Michael Bay movie, Willis and Ben Affleck starred as oil drillers on an area mission to destroy an enormous asteroid on a collision course with the earth.
Scientists estimate DART’s impression into Dimorphos — which orbits a bigger asteroid known as Didymos — will shorten its path across the larger house rock by a number of minutes.
“Researchers will precisely measure that change using telescopes on Earth,” NASA’s assertion continued. “Their results will validate and improve scientific computer models critical to predicting the effectiveness of the kinetic impact as a reliable method for asteroid deflection.”
Nelson mentioned NASA was turning science fiction into “science fact” with the historic launch.
While there isn’t a at present identified asteroid on an impression course towards Earth, NASA hopes to determine any potential impression years or many years upfront, in accordance to Lindley Johnson, the company’s planetary protection officer.
“DART is one aspect of NASA’s work to prepare Earth should we ever be faced with an asteroid hazard,” Lindley mentioned.
NASA can be prepping its Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission, a space-based infrared telescope set for launch later this decade to determine doubtlessly hazardous asteroids and comets inside 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
“Asteroid Dimorphos: we’re coming for you,” NASA tweeted, full with a 30-second clip of liftoff.
There aren’t any identified asteroid hazards to Earth for no less than 100 years, however NASA is testing the “kinetic impactor technique” in case such a necessity arises.
“You can rest easy,” the agency tweeted. “We’re going to hit a small moonlet the size of a football stadium with a spacecraft the size of a vending machine. We hope to change its orbit a tiny bit, but it will stay in orbit around its parent asteroid, which is not a hazard to Earth.”
DART ought to attain Dimorphos someday between Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, 2022, whereas about 6.8 million milles from Earth, NASA mentioned.
Some 55 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft separated itself from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to begin orienting itself towards the solar, video shows.
“This isn’t going to destroy the asteroid,” mentioned mission official Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which is overseeing DART. “It’s just going to give it a small nudge.”