Monday, February 25, 2013

DART –Double Asteroid Redirection Test

AIDA, the name referring to a joint US/European/Japan mission standing for Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment, now has a target. In about 2022 an Asteroid named Didymos poses no threat to the Earth, will be sent packing, or atleast that is the hope.

It is important to note here that Didymus is actually 2 Asteroids. A smaller and it’s companion whom it orbits. A probe will be sent at 22,500 kph to slam into the smaller of the two asteroids while a second probe looks on. The desired affect is a change in the orbit as the collision will result in releasing an incredible amount of energy and in a change of the small asteroid in direction and speed of spin it is hoped will result in knocking the two, at the very least, off course.

“We” have developed various methods that we thought we would use to save the Earth from Asteroid Impact, but Russia’s recent encounter has made the timetables speed up somewhat. Of course the recent cuts to budgets cross the board might affect NASA and seeing as suddenly everyone realizes the need for NASA, perhaps we could throw them a bone?

IDEAS have been: The ideas have varied from From Nuclear Weapons to Asteroid gravitational trackers to the Ion beam shepard…solar powered sails…Mass driver…rocket engines to nudge the asteroid and so on…

And once we try this out and it works (hopefully) I see one remaining problem. Could we perhaps watch the entire sky? The last figure I saw was 80% - apparently these asteroids are catching us off guard maybe coming from the remaining 20%. I have no doubt NASA is doing a fantastic job with what they have, but I think they should have more so they can do an even better job!

About watching the skies, NEOWISE is an enhancement of the WISE (Wide Infrared Survey Explorer)that joined it in December of 2009. The combined skills of the asteroid & other objects surveyors has resulted in the discovery of thousands more asteroids, a couple hundred NEOs (Near Earth Objects) and at least 100 comets. While that is fantastic, that there was that much we weren’t seeing begs taking another look!

Still, that NASA & the ESA (Europe) & JAXA (Japan) were working on this already just goes to show that while Jupiter may be one of our biggest protectors against asteroids, NASA is a close second!

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