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NASA to smash satellite into asteroid to test Earth defense technology

NASA and the European Space Agency are partnering to test if a satellite is capable of knocking an asteroid out of a collision course with earth. The mission will use two spacecraft, one to be launched by NASA in 2021, and another by the European Space Agency.

Traveling at six kilometres per second, the NASA spacecraft DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), will collide with the asteroid, testing whether its trajectory can be altered, and whether the asteroid will shatter into smaller pieces that would still pose a threat to earth.

“When we have a high-speed impact on an asteroid, you create a crater,” explained Andrew Cheng, lead investigator for the NASA team, talking to Cosmos. “You blow pieces back in the direction you came from.”

The asteroid is 65803 Didymos, which was discovered in 1996.

The European space craft, AIM (for Asteroid Impact Mission), will be put into orbit around Didymos to monitor the results of the mission.

As recently reported by Lima Charlie News, amid cuts to NASA in President Trump’s proposed budget, a program facing the axe is the Asteroid Redirect Mission, a plan to place asteroids into orbit around the moon, where they could be studied by astronauts. The mission would also “demonstrate planetary defense techniques to deflect dangerous asteroids and protect Earth if needed in the future.”

A 25 meter wide asteroid missed our planet by 160,000 km on the 2nd of February, and in 2013, a 20 meter asteroid, photographed above, landed in Russia injuring over 1000 people.

 

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