By: Earnest Jones | 03-25-2017 | News
Photo credit: Solarseven |

Planetary Defense : NASA and ESA To Smash Spaceship Into an Asteroid

The European Space Agency and NASA are set to join forces in a rehearsal mission to deflect a killer space rock.The two space agencies intend to ram into an asteroid in a bid to save humanity from a deep impact disaster. The agencies want to experiment and see whether it is possible to deflect a space rock from its course. This will act as part of a planetary defense mission to protect mankind from asteroids.

Asteroid strikes are possible threat that may occur, that’s why Nasa and the European Space Agency want to join forces to defend the planet from such strikes.

There has been fears over potentially deadly asteroids. The White House issued an emergency plan in the event of a collision late last year.

Lord Martin Rees who is an esteemed British astrophysicist and cosmologist recently warned that the government should be spending “millions” on planetary defense.

The mission will use two spacecraft. One of the spacecraft will be launched by the ESA in 2020 and the other by Nasa in 2021.

The name of the first spaceship will be AIM ( Asteroid Impact Mission). AIM will orbit around 65,803 Didymos, which was discovered in back in 1996.

The second spacecraft will be known as DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) it will be launched by NASA. It will be timed to hit the rock a few months later, at a speed of six kilometers per second.

There will be telescopes from AIM (for Asteroid Impact Mission). Which will monitor where the stray pieces of rock end up.

The objective of the mission is to find out whether deflection is the best defense from a stray space rock.This will be a very risky mission because there’s a possibility that crashing into the asteroid could cause fragments to break off and potentially speed up its course.

The shrapnel is also likely to pose an enormous risk to earth.

Discussions are underway between Nasa and the European Space Agency on a planetary defense mission which would involve targeting a near-earth asteroid.The mission rehearsal will involve sending two space craft to the Didymos asteroid system. The Didymos asteroid system is made up of two rocks orbiting each other. The Didymos was discovered in 1996.

The AIM (for Asteroid Impact Mission) spacecraft which will be launched by ESA in 2020 and begin orbiting Didymos in 2022.The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) will be launched by Nasa it will hit the rock a few months later. The two agencies are still in the process of funding the ambitious mission.

Andrew Cheng, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland said that when a high-speed impact is made on an asteroid a crater is created.Cheng is the lead investigator for the NASA side of the project. Cheng also pointed out after the asteroid is hit, pieces are blown back in the direction the impact came from.

The mission will have to get the funding first before it gets a green light. Planetary defense is a very hot topic amongst scientists. NASA has previously warned that Earth could be exposed to an extinction level attack, adding that there are not defense systems available to stop such an attack. Fortunately, asteroids fly by Earth regularly and most of them are small enough to burn up in the atmosphere.


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