NASA prepares asteroid defense mission for November launch: The Tribune India

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Washington, October 22

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, intended to deliberately crash into an asteroid, is preparing to launch next month – the world’s first mission to test planetary defense techniques, demonstrating a method of attenuation of the asteroid deflection, called kinetic impact.

The spacecraft will undergo a series of final tests and checks, as well as refueling, over the next few weeks as the team prepares for the scheduled DART launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 24, a NASA announced in a statement Thursday.

The spacecraft will impact the small lunar asteroid Dimorphos, which orbits a larger companion, Didymos, in a binary asteroid system to change its orbital period.

Although neither of the two asteroids pose a threat to Earth, the collision with Dimorphos allows researchers to demonstrate the deflection technique as well as several new technologies, and collect important data to improve our modeling and forecasting capabilities. the deviation of asteroids. These improvements will help us better prepare in the event that an asteroid is discovered as a threat to Earth, NASA said.

The near-Earth binary asteroid Didymos is the target of the DART demonstration. While Didymos’ main body is around 780 meters in diameter, its secondary body (or “moonlet”) is around 160 meters, which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose the greatest threat to Earth.

The US space agency is intensely observing the ‘Didymos’ binary using telescopes on Earth to accurately measure its properties before DART arrives.

Once launched, DART will deploy Roll Out Solar Arrays (ROSA) to provide solar power for DART’s electric propulsion system. The DART spacecraft will demonstrate NASA’s Evolving Xenon Solar Electric Propulsion System – Commercial (NEXT-C) as part of its space propulsion.

In mid-September, the DART team also successfully completed an Operational Flight Readiness Review to assess its ability to start spacecraft operations once DART enters space.

“We spent a year and a half testing DART on the ground, training for the most anticipated part yet: its flight to Dimorphos,” said Elena Adams, DART Mission Systems Engineer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory ( APL) in Maryland.

“We still have a few mission rehearsals to do, with the team practicing spacecraft launch operations from Vandenberg in California and the APL Mission Operations Center in Maryland. launch and operations, ”Adams added. IANS

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