The Earth can be destroyed at any moment and oddly enough, it probably won’t be our fault. This threat comes from outer space. Apollo asteroids or more commonly known as NEAs, (Near Earth Asteroids), may strike the planet one day causing a mass extinction. Thanks to Jupiter’s gravitational pull, an asteroid could be knocked from its orbit and sent towards us.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, (DART), will test NASA’s ability to change an asteroid’s orbit. Their main target is Didymos B. The Didymos asteroids provide a unique opportunity to observe changes in orbital periods, which is currently eleven point nine hours. The binary asteroids are about five million to seven million kilometers from Earth, just outside the asteroid belt making them easy targets for this test.
DART will be launched in July 2021 when the Dydymos asteroids are at their closest point to Earth. The DART unmanned space craft will be strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket, (Thanks Elon), and launched into space. From there NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thrusters Commercial, (NEXT-C), will kick into gear using Roll-Out Solar Arrays to power the electric propulsion unit. After about a year it will reach its target and us it’s DRACO system, (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera), to guide it into Didymos B. While DART is colliding with the small moon, the Italian Space Agency’s LICIA Cube will document its impact.
Hopefully when 2022 hit’s and the tests are finished, we will be able to track then repel Apollo asteroids. The nightmarish hellscape of a molten planet doesn’t have to be our future. NASA and their many acronyms may one day have a defense array set up to keep us safe from meeting the same fate as the dinosaurs.
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