Author: Seyedhamidreza Alavi
Date of Publication: 06/11/2022
NASA’s recent mission aimed at crashing a spacecraft into a small and non-dangerous asteroid. In particular, that was millions of miles away from the earth and finally the orbit of the space rock has successfully changed. In fact, with this mission once again NASA has achieved another great goal.
This mission was an initial test and in the future NASA hopes to acquire the capabilities to change various types of asteroid directions in space. More specifically, asteroids and comets that are posing a real threat to the earth are the real targets of the mission. Actually, this mission has high importance not just because of changing rocks and comets’ motions within space. It’s important because of offering the future's “planetary defense” as the agency officials confirmed.
Dart was NASA’s initial attempt in the case of planetary defense. In particular, it has shown that this agency is preparing itself to be ready for the future and whatever space would throw at us. The first aim in this regard was to see if this technique would deliver enough punch power toward a space rock for changing its course and knocking it out of the first direction. Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator recently stated during a press conference: “We showed the world NASA is serious as a defender of this planet”. Also, he added, “The mission was like a movie plot but it was not Hollywood”.
Other aims carried by the mission
Astronomers are currently investigating the surface of Dimorphic and measuring its strength to see how strong or weak it is. In addition, Dart has already given us much useful data about asteroids and also the level of effectiveness of the impactor as a tool for planetary defense. So, the Dart team focuses on continuing to work on this huge database to fully understand everything about this first planetary defense test.
Objects close to the Earth
Right now the objects close to the earth are comets and asteroids placed within the orbit 30 million miles away from the earth. Therefore, it’s NASA’s and also other space organizations' objective to detect near-earth objects which could pose a threat to the earth. However, at the moment there are no asteroids or comets on a direct impact route with the earth. This sounds hopeful although there are more than 27000 asteroids currently existing in a variety of shapes and sizes close to the Earth.