Rejoice! We’re finally finally starting to build a planetary defense system!

SpaceX has been contracted to launch NASA’s “Double Asteroid Redirection Test”. The “DART” will be NASA’s first planetary defense mission. The test is an important proof of concept for our ability to alter the course of hazardous asteroids.

 For all human history we’ve relied on luck that a giant space rock hasn’t killed us all. The dinosaurs weren’t so lucky, but we were, and now we may not have to be anymore. 

Soon we may be able to rest easy, rockets ready to blast threats at a moment’s notice! 

This test will be targeting the asteroid Didymoon which is a satellite of the much larger asteroid Didymos. By slamming a payload into the satellite asteroid, we can gather information on how much force we need to effectively alter its course. 

Are The Asteroids A Threat?!

Didymoon and Didymos pose no threat to Earth, but it’s a good Idea to practice before all of humanity is at stake. The journey will launch July 2021, take a little more than a year, and cover 11 million kilometers, impacting on September 2022

DART spacecraft render

The DART itself is a pretty high-tech piece of machinery. Especially considering we’re gonna smash it into a big space rock. It’s equipped with two roll out solar arrays (ROSA) used to generate electricity. Electricity which powers it’s new cutting-edge Xenon thrusters. This will allow the spacecraft to accelerate to 6.6 km/s for maximum impact! It also enjoys the ability to adjust the timeline and course correct should it need to.

The mission is a ways off, but it’s encouraging to see resources used for planetary defense. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more missions like this in the future. I’ll keep any information released about the DART updated here.

If you want more information on asteroids, and their threat to Earth I’ve compiled all of the useful information into a post here.

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