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NASA DART spacecraft to collide with moonlet in 2022
NASA to soon demonstrate its planetary defence.
NASA has announced its plan to collide with a small moonlet target in a double asteroid system with a spacecraft in 2022. This will also mark as the first the space agency will demonstrate its planetary defence technique.
The asteroid, dubbed Didymoon or Didymos B, is around 150 meters in size and orbits the Didymos A which is the most accessible asteroid from Earth, reports Xinhua news agency. An international campaign is now making observations making use of powerful telescopes to study the asteroid system better.
"The Didymos system is too small and too far to be seen as anything more than a point of light, but we can get the data we need by measuring the brightness of that point of light, which changes as Didymos A rotates and Didymos B orbits," said Andy Rivkin, a co-lead of the investigation team.
The spacecraft called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will feature an optical navigation system to capture images that will lead the spacecraft to the moonlet. The launch is expected to happen in Jluy 2021, in contrast to the previous planned launch time which was December 2020.
The spacecraft will collide into the asteroid at a speed of 6km per second and the collision will change the speed of the moonlet by a fraction of one percent, which will be then measured by telescopes on Earth, according to NASA.
During a role-playing simulation exercise 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland, NASA scientists failed to deflect a meteor crashing into the Earth - even after eight years of preparation.
The space agency is also working with SpaceX for the development of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (D.A.R.T). NASA hopes to detect 90 percent of space rocks ranging from 140 meter and above using the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile.