NASA and the ESA are finally set to test the Earth's planetary defenses to see, respectively, we can successfully deduce ourselves from the apparent scourge of space rocks. But the scientists are not sure what's going to happen.
Didymos B, roughly 160 meters in diameter, one half of a binary asteroid system. Didymos B orbits the larger asteroid Didymos A every 11.92 hours and this will help determine the ultimate success (or failure ) of the mission.
The Didymos system is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), meaning it's close but not too close to being hit, making it the perfect test subject to our anti-meteor might.
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"Astronomer Ian Carnelli of the ESA told Technology Review."   "Today, we're the first humans in history to have the technology to fly out of aero," astronomer Ian Carnelli ] "The key question is, are the technologies and models that we have good enough to actually work? Before you drive a car, you need to have an insurance policy. Well, AIDA is the insurance policy for planet Earth. "
There may be some complications to the mission, however.
JAXA bombed the asteroid Ryugu in April, it made a far bigger crater than anticipated. Additionally, the material on the surface behaved like sand, which may impact the effectiveness of.
"If gravity is so dominant at Didymos B, even though it is much smaller, we could end up with a much bigger crater than our models and lab-based experiments to date have shown," explained planetary scientist Patrick Michel of CNRS.
"The Ultimate, very little is known about the behavior of these small bodies during impacts and this could have been big consequences for planetary defense."
The DART will ram into Didymos B at 23,760 kilometers per hour (14,760mph). However, all that force only translates into a change in the asteroid's velocity of just a centimeter per second or so, which could change the orbital period from almost 12 hours to a mere matter of minutes.
The mission is set to launch in September 2022.
A cubesat called LICIAcube wants to detach from the DART craft just before impact and beam photos to the impact back to Earth for analysis, so we'll have row seats to see whether we're doomed or not.
The ESA's Hera surveillance spacecraft will launch in 2023 and take observations starting in 2027 to give the final appraisal of the mission.
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