NASA has announced to defer the crucial planetary defense mission. The space agency was slated to launch the mission by mid-2021. The mission involves launching a method in space that will guard Earth against possible asteroid impact in the future. The agency had plans to test the method before validating it. According to the space agency, the method will act as a shield for Earth from impacts of rocky objects that are dangerous. The mission has been named Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) by the agency. DART will be the first of its kind mission by NASA. As per the plan, NASA had planned to launch the mission in the window of July 21 to August 24. But it has postponed the launch to a new window of November 24 to February 15 next year.
According to NASA’s statement, the DART is a space probe. It will visit the double asteroid Didymos. It is classified as a hazardous asteroid. Also a sub-kilometer asteroid, Didymos is a synchronous binary system. According to the scientific classification, Didymos belongs to both the Amor and Apollo and groups. The objective of the probe is to demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid. This will allow scientists to change the speed and orbit of an asteroid by creating kinetic impact. The statement noted that it is for planetary defense purposes. It will first assess the risk and pave the way for making preparations in advance to guard Earth against an asteroid impact threat.
NASA said that the pandemic is one of the reasons behind its decision to postpone the mission. Another important factor that delayed the launch is that the mission is critical at different stages. It added that DART will still arrive at the Didymos at the planned time. It said the probe will reach the binary asteroid system within a few days of the scheduled impact date. The date is September 30, 2022. It will carry out its kinetic impact test. As per the plan, the test will be conducted on the small asteroid Dimorphos. It was discovered in 2003. The test will determine whether a spacecraft’s impact can deflect an asteroid from the course of a possible collision with Earth.