“ DART “in English means dart, dart, and therefore already suggests the idea of a target, of something to hit. And it is also the acronym for Double Asteroid Redirection Test , the mission of the NASA which aims to test the effectiveness of the technologies we currently have in divert the path of potentially dangerous asteroids with the aim, obviously, of avoiding the impact with our planet. Exactly, an Armageddon-style scenario, but as we know it has happened and will happen again in the billion-year history of our planet.
Curiosity 26 Needle
But what exactly does the mission consist of? This is the first use of the kinetic impact technique , which is a “brutal” approach to the issue , and consists of hurling a large spacecraft at high speed at an asteroid – in this case binary, or the pair made up of Didymos and his moon Dimorphos.
DART is launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today at 7 am: 21 (now Italian). NASA calls this mission “ the first major planetary defense test “.
The asteroid Dydimos has a diameter of approximately 780 meters , while that of the moon Dimorphos measures it 160 .
But is there to worry? No: said that NASA cautiously considers as “potentially dangerous” any object that is within 7.4 million kilometers from Earth and that measures more than 140 meters in diameter, for the moment it is not yet to save the planet. If anything, to understand if the developed technique can prove to be effective should it be necessary to apply it, one day, in the presence of a concrete threat.
Following the collision with the impactor, the asteroid’s path should observe a variation of less than 1%, but still sufficient on an exponential scale to deviate it significantly: from the study of the effects we will be able to understand the incisiveness of the kinetic impact.
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