The asteroids that shake the Earth are not a new concern. This is what the authors of science fiction and Hollywood tell us about, and every child who has ever paid attention to dinosaurs at school knows that there are bad results when life and parts of space rocks meet. Space agencies of Europe and the United States of America, fortunately, are not blind to the threat and have working satellite tasks in parts aimed at collecting real data on how to redirect an asteroid with poor intentions for our planet, He's on a collision. Specifically, they plan to collide one satellite into the asteroid and to study the effect with another satellite, run by the European Space Agency (ESA).
NASA's part of the mission is called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and will serve as the first evidence of changing asteroid motion in space. The launch window begins at the end of December 2020, most likely on the way in June 2021, to arrive at the target asteroid, Didymos, at the beginning of October 2022. Didymos is Greek for "twins" and the name is chosen because the two-body binary system: Didymos asteroid, about half a mile across, and Didymoon moon, about 530 meters across, which works like a moonlet. At present, they have sun-centered orbits, and will remotely approximate Earth approximately at the same time as the DART launcher window, and then again in 2024.
When we reach the asteroid, DART enters the orbit around Didymoon and moves at speeds of about 4 mi / s (nine times faster than the bullet) to the speed to change the speed for a fraction of the percentage that Earth telescopes can measure for ease of learning. It is not surprising that the most appropriate description is the "technique of kinetic influence", but not "crash" – maybe even "effect" or "strike" if we avoid expressions that are random or accidental. The mission is run by John Hopkins Laboratory for Applied Physics (JHU / APL), managed by the planetary mission planning office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama for the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
NASA's mission DART is one of two parts of the general mission called AIDA (Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment). Join the Earth Protection Agency ESA with its Hera spacecraft, named after a Greek goddess of weddings, probes to accompany the mission of DART with a detailed review of the asteroid response to impact. The collected data will contribute to the design of planetary defense plans by providing a detailed analysis of the DART real-time asteroid deformation experiment. The beginning is scheduled for 2023.
Only this month Hera added another part: CubeSats. This class of small satellites is about as big as a briefcase, and recently they landed their space for the first time at NASA's Mars InSight. At the time of this mission, the double CubeSats, together called MarCO, followed on to Mars for InSight and in the end transferred data while landing back to NASA Mission Control together with a photo of the red planet. ESA's CubeSats, called APEX (Asteroid Prospection Explorer) and Juventas, will travel within Hera, collect data about Didymos and his month, and then both will go down on their rocks and provide an image from the surface.
Only recap: small satellites in the classroom, which students and startups can develop and begin to travel, will travel to deeper space and land on asteroids. This is great news for the democratization of space travel. As Paolo Martino, Herin, chief engineer of the ESA, predicting the CubeSat mission, emphasized Paolo Martino, "the idea of constructing CubeSat for a deep space is relatively new, but recently confirmed by NASA's landing on Mars in November last year."
The use of kinetic energy – a pure collision / collision force – is not the only option NASA is seeking to defend the Earth from the asteroids in front. The concept of a "gravity tractor" would surround the vessel in a way that would alter the trajectory by gravity pulling. Like our moon, it affects our tide or the earth, making the Sun so fluctuating so much that the satellite circling around the asteroid will push and pull in order to set the direction elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the gravity tractor probably would not be very effective for large enough asteroids to seriously endanger our planet. Also, techniques to achieve this would require decades to develop and test in space. Laser ablation or the use of asteroidal rock evaporation lasers to change the direction of the asteroid is another technique NASA has taken into account, but it may also be feasible or cost-effective to simply launch missiles to achieve the same purpose.
Take a look at the video below for a visual overview of DART and HERA missions: