If you’ve watched Armageddon and Deep Impact movies from the 90’s, today’s news will make you feel shivers down your spine as NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) announced they are planning to smash a spaceship into an asteroid in an attempt to simulate a mission to save mankind from a killer space rock or something along these lines.
It would be interesting to know if the idea to ram a spaceship into an asteroid for changing its orbit came from the aforementioned movies or vice versa. However, the point of the mission is to verify the validity of the theory in real life, i.e. the 2 space agencies want to know first hand if it’s possible to deflect a killer asteroid from its course in what can be described as the first step into a planetary defense force.
The White House released an emergency defense plan last year which basically acknowledges the possibility of a catastrophic collision with an asteroid in the near future.
Many scientists also warned their governments that they should prepare (via big spending of course) for planetary defense against an extinction level event (ELE) , such as a collision with a big asteroid, the likes of the ELE which made dinosaurs extinct.
The mission for saving mankind from the killer rock will begin with two spacecraft launched in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The ESA spaceship will orbit an asteroid named 65803 Didymos which was discovered back in 1996 in what has been dubbed Asteroid Impact Mission or AIM.
The NASA spacecraft is called DART aka Double Asteroid Direction Test and it will be used in a suicide mission, i.e. it will smash into the asteroid trying to change its trajectory, with AIM’s sensors and telescopes monitoring what’s happening, i.e. where the pieces of smashed asteroid will end up.
Planetary defense is a hot topic among scientists and the good news is that the mission was green-lighted by both ESA and NASA.