How is the stadium-sized asteroid that NASA wants to deflect with a science fiction mission

Don’t worry, for the next 100 years there are no asteroids that will destroy our planet. Yet some nasty surprises can always appear on the horizon. Also for this reason, the NASA mission that started on November 24 is essential to be prepared with a plan: hit the asteroid to deflect it from its original orbit (and thus avoid crashing to Earth).

But let’s get to know the space rock towards which the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission is directed. It is actually a pair of asteroids, in which the one called Dimorphos revolves around the larger Didymos.

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Dimorphos is about the size of a football field, but the problem is that we can’t see it because it’s too far away (more than 10 million kilometers from Earth) and naturally too dimly lit. We know its characteristics because we study its constant passage in front of Didymos. We will have a real image of this object thanks to the camera of our vehicle, about an hour before the impact.

Our probe will be the size of a golf spinning machine, but the impact should be just enough to push Dimorphos closer to Didymos, causing it to orbit the largest asteroid about 10 minutes faster than before, every 11 minutes. hours and 45 minutes instead of every 11 hours and 55 minutes. We will hit the center of the object at 24,140 km per hour, 6 km per second.

If all goes according to plan we will know what kind of impact we can cause by hitting an asteroid, we will know how long and how much force it will take to move it and we will know how big the “bullet” must be in relation to the size of the threat. In short, if an asteroid wants us to end up like the dinosaurs it will first have to sweat a lot because we will be ready.

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