NASA to test new plan to stop potential doomsday asteroid from hitting Earth

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Asteroid. File photo

Last year, the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) revealed the existence of an asteroid with the potential to destroy Earth. Now, the space agency is working on a way to counter the extremely terrifying possibility.

READ: NASA to study asteroid with potential to destroy Earth

According to The Register, NASA is currently on the design phase of a spacecraft known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which could knock potential doomsday asteroids onto less-threatening flight paths.

By partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA), NASA is aiming to simulate the mission by trying to move a “non-threatening” asteroid. The tests are expected to begin sometime between 2022 and 2024, the report said.

“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique – striking the asteroid to shift its orbit – to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” Lindley Johnson, Planetary defence officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, was quoted as saying in the report.

“This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid,” he added.

According to earlier estimates, DART will hit the almost 160-meter-long asteroid, at around 3.7 miles per second.

Despite the degree of difficulty to execute the experiment, Andy Cheng of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, explained why the demo is vital.

“Since we don’t know that much about their internal structure or composition, we need to perform this experiment on a real asteroid,” he said.

“With DART, we can show how to protect Earth from an asteroid strike with a kinetic impactor by knocking the hazardous object into a different flight path that would not threaten the planet,” he added.  Khristian Ibarrola /ra

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