NASA’s Plan to Stop an Asteroid Headed for Earth

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Estimates say that a vehicle-sized asteroid explodes in our atmosphere about once per year, often too high to make a noticeable impact.

But in 2013, a small meteor exploded just 20 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia that sent over 1,200 people to the hospital.

Today, a team of experts from NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office works diligently to find asteroids that travel near Earth’s orbit.

They’ve released a plan in order to prevent a large-scale asteroid impact, and part of this plan is the DART mission.

DART aims to travel to the asteroid Didymos in 2021 to demonstrate the tech that could be used to redirect an asteroid headed for Earth.

What is the gravity tractor and how could it be used to divert an asteroid?

NASA’s Plan to Stop an Asteroid Headed for Earth

The threat of an asteroid colliding with the Earth is a real possibility, with catastrophic consequences. In recent years, NASA has been working on a plan to prevent a potential asteroid impact by diverting or destroying the asteroid before it reaches Earth. While the chance of an asteroid hitting the planet is small, the potential consequences are too great to ignore.

NASA’s planetary defense team constantly monitors the skies for asteroid threats. It has identified more than 25,000 near-Earth objects since it began its asteroid surveys in the 1990s. While many are relatively small and pose no significant risk, there are some that could cause mass destruction in the event of an impact. To prevent such an event, NASA has developed several strategies to stop an asteroid.

One such strategy is a method called the kinetic impactor. This plan involves sending a spacecraft to collide with the asteroid at high speed to change its trajectory. NASA has tested this method in a mission called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test). The DART spacecraft is set to collide with an asteroid called Didymos in 2022. By measuring the change in the asteroid’s orbit, NASA will determine whether the kinetic impactor method can be used to prevent an asteroid impact.

Another method that NASA is exploring is the gravity tractor. This plan involves sending a spacecraft to fly alongside the asteroid and use its gravity to pull it off course. The spacecraft would have to be large enough to generate sufficient gravitational force to divert the asteroid. While the concept is still in the design phase, NASA has identified this as a promising method for diverting an asteroid.

In addition to these methods, NASA is also researching the use of nuclear bombs to destroy an asteroid. This method involves using a nuclear device to vaporize an asteroid before it reaches Earth. However, this strategy is seen as a last resort because of the potential harm that could be caused by the explosion.

While NASA continues to develop and test its asteroid prevention methods, the best way to protect the planet from an asteroid impact is to detect them early. NASA is committed to detecting asteroids with enough time to take action and prevent a catastrophic impact. NASA’s asteroid detection program is instrumental in ensuring early detection of asteroids and taking measures to protect the planet.

In conclusion, NASA is constantly researching, testing, and developing methods to prevent an asteroid from hitting Earth. While there is still much to be done, the agency is committed to protecting our planet from this potential threat. With continued research, early detection, and swift action, we can ensure the safety and security of our world.

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