New York: The US space organization The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Monday, gave details about hitting a small moonlet target in a double asteroid system with its spacecraft if 2022 in its first mission to demonstrate a planetary defense technique- Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The organization is planning to launch a spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that is expected to hit a moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.
On Monday, NASA said that the DART will be launched in mid-2021. The DART will intercept the moonlet target by using solar electric propulsion when the asteroid would be within 11 million kilometers of Earth. NASA said that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth, news agency IANS reported.
Since 2015, NASA researchers had been making efforts to observe the binary asteroid system from Earth. An international campaign coordinated by Cristina Thomas of Northern Arizona University is now making important observations regarding the state of Didymos before DART reach it.
The organization said, "Current observations will help researchers to better understand the extent of the impact made when DART slams into its target, Didymos B, in September 2022."
Andy Rivkin, a co-lead of the investigating team said, "The Didymos system is too small and too far to be seen as anything more than a point of light, but we can get the data we need by measuring the brightness of that point of light, which changes as Didymos A rotates and Didymos B orbits."