It's a Hollywood theme that has been used multiple times: What happens if a large asteroid is on a collision course with Earth? The film Deep Impact deals with the impact of a large asteroid on Earth, and Armageddon with Bruce Willis is about defending itself against the danger from space with the help of atomic explosions. And so far from this scenario is not at all. The US Space Agency NASA is also concerned with how our planet could be defended against large asteroids. The discussed methods are a bit less spectacular than they are portrayed by Hollywood and are expected to be tested soon.

Image: NASA

DART: Using a space probe against an asteroid

In a forthcoming test mission called "Double Asteroid Redirection Test" – DART for short – NASA wants to collide a spacecraft with the impressive speed of 21,000 kilometers per hour with an asteroid called Didymoon. If the mission is successful, the result will be an artificial collision of unprecedented proportions and a historic breakthrough in planetary defense. The idea behind it is that the collision causes a change in the course of the asteroid, which in case of emergency would be sufficient to prevent a collision with the earth.

" To do something like this, so we need a really long warning time; the idea of ​​a kinetic impactor is definitely not like the movie 'Armageddon,' where you go at the last hour and you know, save the earth. Merrily on its way and does not impact the Earth "said Nancy Chabot, a member of the DART teams.

Planetary Defense as a Theme of the Present

The current plan is to launch the DART Probe 2020 or 2021. The collision with Didymoon should then take place in 2022. Several years after the collision, a mission of the Italian space agency to investigate what caused damage to the asteroid and whether there was a change in course.

" Planetary defense is really about the present solar system and what are we going for to do in the present "continues Chabot.


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