If you’ve ever worried about all of humanity being wiped out by an asteroid hitting the Earth (think Armageddon or Deep Impact), then this should be reassuring.
NASA just revealed that they have prepared for such an occurrence, and that they’re actually going to be doing a dry run – checking that their plan works – in 2024.
The space agency are in the process of developing spacecraft that will be capable of tracking and deflecting asteroids, sending them on a new trajectory away from Earth.
Known as DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), this method will be tested when the non-threatening asteroid Didymos B passes by Earth in 2024. NASA are going to launch their spacecraft at the asteroid, and hope that it knocks it off its course.
As Andy Cheng (who is coordinating this project at Johns Hopkins University) explained:
“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact”
Since we don’t know that much about their internal structure or composition, we need to perform this experiment on a real asteroid.
With DART, we can show how to protect Earth from an asteroid strike with a kinetic impactor by knocking the hazardous object into a different flight path that would not threaten the planet.”
They always seem so unprepared in disaster movies, so it’s reassuring to know that in the real world, there’s actually a plan in place.
We just have to sincerely hope that no asteroids come hurtling towards Earth before 2024…
Let us know what you think in the comments!