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NASA is planning to test one method of asteroid trajectory change. It is an important test of the most likely method of changing the trajectory of an asteroid. It is the first time NASA will be testing a man-made method of such an asteroid path modification.
The asteroid planned for the test is called Didymos and it has a small moon orbiting it. So it is a binary asteroid system. The NASA plan involves launching a spacecraft weighing about 1200 lbs. and increasing the velocity to about 25,000 mph before impacting the small moon orbiting the asteroid. The resulting impact is hoped to decrease the mass of the moon and change the orbit of the moon which ultimately is hoped will change the path of the main asteroid. NASA will track the asteroid system before and after impact to determine the ultimate change in asteroid path. The launch is scheduled for 2020 and will arrive at the asteroid system in 2022.
The Didymos asteroid system is a binary asteroid that does not threaten the Earth. Binary or multiple asteroid systems represent about 1/6 of all current near-Earth asteroid systems according to NASA therefore, it makes sense to do an impact test on one such system.
The test mission has been named "Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and represents an important first step in the ultimate Earth protection system. The DART mission will be launched by, who else but, Space X. That's right... the ultimate Earth defence system will be initiated by the ultimate space flight company.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.