Humanity will try to deflect an asteroid in a few hours

NASA’s Dart probe is about to perform an unprecedented maneuver: deliberately colliding with Dimorphos, a small moon in orbit around the asteroid Didymos. If it is not the first time that a probe has collided with an object in the Solar System, until now it was a question of forming a crater to study the basement of the surface, even to recover samples of the exposed material: ” againstit is the first time that this has been done to deflect an asteroid from its path by impact Patrick Michel, CNRS research director at the Côte d’Azur Observatory, scientific director of Hera and coordinator of the Aida (Dart + Hera) cooperation, recently explained to us.

This is the first time this has been done to deflect an asteroid from its path by impact.

Although the asteroid poses no threat to Earth, this mission will test technology that could be used to defend our planet against potential dangers from asteroids or comets that may be detected in the future, heading right for us.

NASA’s Dart probe prepares to crash into the binary asteroid made up of Didymos and its moon Dimorphos. The collision is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 at 1:14 am © NASA

Since Dart’s launch, the mission’s navigation team has been working to get the probe and the Italian cubesat LiciaCube (deployed from Dart the first week of September) to where they “should” be 24 hours before impact. In fact, since its launch in November 2021, the Dart probe has targeted the binary asteroid Didymos, but also a “virtual square” in the sky of 15 kilometers.

Objectives accomplished! 24 hours before impact, the two satellites are in a good position, which was not easy anyway. We are talking about an asteroid located about 11 million kilometers from Earth and only 160 meters in diameter that does not have a lighthouse on its surface to…

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