It sounds like a Hollywood field, but it is real. NASA will send a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid’s moon. That moon now has a name: Dimorphos, which means “to have two shapes.” Before crushing and after crushing.
It will hit an asteroid called Didymos in 2022 as a demonstration of an asteroid deflection system designed to redirect a space rock away from an impact on Earth. The Didymos moon is the target of the exercise and was charged with the temporary name “Didymos B” until the International Astronomical Union approved the new name “Dimorphos” this week.
The European Space Agency (ESA) compares the size of Dimorphos with the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
DART is designed for kinetic impact, which means it will collide with Dimorphos in an effort to push it. If it works, this method could potentially be used to move an Earth-threatening asteroid to a safer path. It is a more realistic version of the 1998 action movie Armageddon.
“Dimorphos, which means ‘two shapes’, reflects the status of this object as the first celestial body to have the ‘shape’ of its orbit significantly changed by humanity, in this case, by the impact of DART,” he said. planetary scientist and DART team member Kleomenis Tsiganis in a statement from NASA on Tuesday.
Dangerous asteroids are a global problem, and NASA is not doing this alone. The DART exploits will be witnessed by a little fellow from CubeSat of the Italian Space Agency. Two years later, ESA will launch its own Hera spacecraft to visit Didymos and examine the results of the DART mission.
DART is slated for launch in 2021. Didymos and Dimorphos are not a real threat to Earth, but they could become invaluable test subjects as we discover new ways to protect our planet.
Explore the Ryugu asteroid with the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft from Japan
See all photos