OCT 21, 2019 3:07 PM PDT

Here's Why NASA Wants to Crash a Spacecraft Into an Asteroid

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Yes, you read that right; NASA would like to slam a purposefully built spacecraft into the surface of an asteroid. While this idea might seem like a substantial waste of time and resources to some, NASA’s Planetary Defense and Coordination Office sees it as a brilliant opportunity to learn more about what happens when you meet force with an opposing force in outer space.

The idea is to learn whether it’s possible or not to disturb an asteroid’s orbital trajectory with a high-velocity impact. If successful, this would have significant implications for defending our planet against conceivable asteroid impacts – especially those that endanger life on our planet as we know it. The test will involve two separate missions, which are collectively being called the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA).

The first mission will be known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), and after the spacecraft launches in 2021, it will purportedly slam into an asteroid between September or October the following year such that scientists can observe what happens next. The spacecraft will carry a camera cubesat that will deploy shortly before the collision to record everything. Astronomers will also tune into the asteroid target with telescopes to identify any shifts in speed or direction.

The second mission will come from the European Space Agency, and it’ll be called the Hera Mission. This spacecraft will visit the same asteroid that DART targets two years later to assess the impact DART made on the surface. From this, scientists can identify how much damage the spacecraft did to the space rock.

Many astronomers suggest that we’re long overdue for an extinction-level asteroid impact, and while there don’t appear to be any space rocks on our immediate radar, that’s not to say there isn’t a surprise asteroid lurking out there somewhere. Missions like this one will help humankind prepare for the worst as space rock-centric threats materialize, and perhaps one day, the results could save us all from imminent doom.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
FEB 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
FEB 07, 2021
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
Air travel is thought to be a significant contributor to emissions that lead to climate change. NASA is now launching an ...
FEB 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
FEB 17, 2021
Where Did the Comet (or Asteroid) That Killed the Dinosaurs Originate?
The Chicxulub impactor is thought to have crashed into Earth around 66 million years ago near the Mexican coast. The cra ...
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
JUN 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
JUN 16, 2021
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
Earth and the planets in the solar system sit within the heliosphere, a giant bubble formed by the charged particles, li ...
JUN 12, 2021
Cancer
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
JUN 12, 2021
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
In an interdisciplinary breakthrough, a recent study published in Science describes the development of a new platform, d ...
JUL 17, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Solar Radio Signals Improve Monitoring of Melting Ice Sheets
JUL 17, 2021
Solar Radio Signals Improve Monitoring of Melting Ice Sheets
Solar radio signals from the sun could provide a cheaper and low-power way of monitoring vast expanses of ice sheets, an ...
Loading Comments...