NASA Shoved an Asteroid?

NASA Shoved an Asteroid?

California, Saturday, Nov 27, 2021: NASA embarked on an unprecedented mission to deflect an asteroid so NASA launched a space mission just before Thanksgiving to test technology that could one day help humanity deflect a dangerous asteroid.

A spacecraft launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Tuesday (Nov 23) at 10:20 p.m. PST in the first real-world test of a technique to shave off a threatening space rock.

The golf-cart-sized spacecraft will travel more than 6 million miles to an asteroid that poses no threat to Earth and ram into it. Scientists will then monitor the asteroid’s trajectory to see how it changes.

NASA has identified and tracked nearly all of the nearby asteroids of a size that would cause catastrophic damage if they collided with Earth. None of that magnitude is on the horizon for the foreseeable future. However, there are numerous smaller asteroids the size of which could destroy a city that has yet to be discovered or found.

The spacecraft will now spend months speeding toward an asteroid hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth. (What has this asteroid ever done to us? Nothing—except that NASA requires a test subject.) With the asteroid in its sights, the probe will line itself up in September 2022 and then—bam!—smash right into the unsuspecting rock at nearly 15,000 miles per hour.

The asteroid’s orbit will be slightly altered as a result of the impact. Following that, scientists will use telescopes on Earth to observe the shift to see if this technique can be used to protect our planet from a real cosmic threat.

According to a press release NASA’s planetary defence officer, Lindley Johnson, called this a “kinetic impactor” technique. But, while the name is straightforward, the mission is anything but. “This technique…is…the most technologically mature approach for mitigating a potentially hazardous asteroid,” Johnson stated in a press release. “[I]t will assist planetary defence experts in refining asteroid kinetic impactor computer models, providing insight into how we might deflect potentially dangerous near-Earth objects in the future,” she added.

Source: The Atlantic, NPR, Nerdist