DART Mission- NASA’s New Spacecraft Discovery, called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will help protect Earth from potentially devastating impact of asteroid by altering the course of deadly asteroids. It is the DART spacecraft, launched on the 23rd of November 2021, will aim at the asteroid Didymos which is closely orbited by the smaller asteroid Dimorphos.
Its DART satellite is designed to strike Dimorphos with a speed of about 6 km/sec. This will result in an eminent change in its course. While the impact may be minimal, it may be enough to remove the asteroid away from its current orbit, and possibly help to protect Earth from an impact in the future.
DART mission DART task is operated by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, that is responsible for identifying the location, tracking, and characterization of potentially hazardous comets and asteroids which could be near the Earth’s orbit. While the probability of an asteroid colliding with Earth is extremely unlikely but it’s not unattainable and the impacts could be catastrophic.
According to NASA they believe that the DART mission is expected to provide useful data that will enhance our understanding of how we can avoid asteroids in the near future. The data gathered by the mission will allow scientists to improve their models to predict the impact of deflecting asteroid maneuvers that could prove useful in the case of a real-life threat.
It is believed that the DART mission will be a joint initiative between NASA together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the spacecraft is being constructed in collaboration with The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory located in Maryland. The ESA will provide the spacecraft with a camera onboard known as LICIACube. It will record images of the impact as well as the aftereffects.
This DART mission is but one of numerous space missions that are being carried out to discover our solar system as well as beyond. Starting with the Mars Perseverance Rover to the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA as well as others space organizations are continually expanding the limits of space exploration and exploration.
As we learn more about the universe around us It is becoming more evident that we aren’t the only ones. Discoveries of extraplanets or planets that are not part of the solar system suggests there could be other types of life within the universe. With new technology and new missions coming up It’s just an issue of time before we are able to make further groundbreaking discoveries.
Its DART spacecraft is roughly as big as a fridge, and weighs around 1,100 pounds. It was launched on an SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The spacecraft will travel approximately 10 months before it reaches the asteroid belt and is anticipated to collide with Dimorphos on September 20, 2022.
One of the major challenges for the mission is that the asteroid cluster is 11 million kilometers from Earth. The spacecraft will have to travel in a completely autonomous manner with the onboard navigation system. The mission will also require the highest level of accuracy, as minor changes in the direction that of Dimorphos could have major impacts on its orbit.
It is believed that the DART task is part an overall effort to enhance our understanding of potential dangers posed by asteroids and other objects near Earth. The NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office maintains an inventory of potentially hazardous objects and also collaborates with other observatories and space agencies all over the world to study their orbits as well as to determine their physical properties.
Although the probability of an asteroid hitting Earth is slim, the probability isn’t completely. The year 2013 saw a meteor struck across Chelyabinsk, Russian town of Chelyabinsk which injured more than 1,000 people , and caused widespread damage. This incident was an eloquent reminder of the dangers from near-Earth-based objects and the need for constant vigilantity and readiness.
In the end overall, the DART mission is a significant improvement in our ability to safeguard Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids. In proving the efficacy of asteroid deflection as well as improving knowledge of fundamental science, this mission may aid in future efforts to secure Earth from threats of cosmic astrophysics.
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