The scene of an asteroid hitting the earth and threatening human survival has been staged many times in Hollywood movies.
In order to prevent the plot in the movie from becoming a reality, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducted an impact test on September 26, local time, and let a spaceship hit an asteroid in an attempt to change the orbit of the asteroid.
This is also the first attempt in human history to change the motion of natural celestial bodies in space.
At present, the impact has been successfully completed, and it will take weeks or months to observe whether the asteroid’s orbit can be successfully changed.
According to official website news of NASA, after 10 months of space flight, NASA’s spacecraft carrying out the “Double Asteroid Redirect Test” (DART) mission successfully hit an asteroid named “Dimorphos” at 7: 14 pm EST on 26th.
The project was launched in November 2021 with an investment of 325 million US dollars, which was jointly implemented by NASA and the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University.
When it hit Dimorfos, the speed of the NASA spacecraft reached 22,500 km/h, and the camera carried on the spacecraft sent back the last picture before the impact.
After the spacecraft signal disappeared, the ground staff cheered and celebrated, and the project team announced that the impact mission was successful. Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Department, said that this mission has opened a new era for mankind, an era when humans may be able to prevent asteroids from hitting the Earth.
Katherine Calvin, chief scientist and senior climate consultant of NASA, also pointed out that dinosaurs had no space plan to prevent asteroids from hitting the Earth, but now “we have”. Scientists speculate that the impact of the “Hicksulubo” asteroid on the earth 65 million years ago led to the extinction of dinosaurs.
The asteroid “Dimerforth” that was hit this time is 160 meters in diameter, about the size of a football field, and it runs around another asteroid “Didymus” with a diameter of 780 meters. At the time of impact, the two asteroids were 11 million kilometers away from the earth and did not pose a threat to the earth.
It takes 11 hours and 55 minutes for “Dimorphos” to go around “Dimorphos”. NASA hopes that the impact will shorten the running time of Dimorphus by 1%, about 10 minutes. At present, it is uncertain whether the impact has successfully changed the orbit of the binaural bat, and it will take weeks or months to accurately measure the orbit change.
However, NASA firmly believes that due to the small weight of the spacecraft, the impact will not have a devastating impact on Dimorfors. The NASA spacecraft weighs 579 kilograms, while the Gemini weighs 5 billion kilograms. The researchers described it as hitting the pyramid with a golf cart.
After NASA completes the impact mission, the European Space Agency plans to launch a spacecraft to Dimorphos in 2024 and investigate the impact crater and geology of Dimorphos in 2027.
For many years, scientists have been tracking near-earth objects that may pose a threat to the earth. It is estimated that there are about 25,000 NEOs with a diameter of 140 meters in space, but at present, NASA has only observed 40% of them.
In 2026, NASA will launch a near-earth object observation project to track celestial bodies in the solar system that may pose a threat to the earth.