Asteroid Didymos (File Photo)
Asteroid 65803 Didymos is one of the dangerous space rock in the space. The 775-metre space rock is orbited by a smaller 160-metre-wide moon and is classified as a potentially hazardous by NASA. However, NASA has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to combat its potential to crash into Earth. Yes, you read it right.
Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. Asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to our planet and also to human life. The effects of an asteroid strike—tsunamis, shock waves, and flattening winds, could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them.
Coming back to the asteroid 65803 Didymos, the space rock gets its name from the Greek word for twin. It is to be noted that European space ministers are set to support the HERA project in November - named CubeSats – in an attempt to figure out how to deflect it.
According to a report of express.co.uk, last month, Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May revealed the plans. He said, “HERA is led by a multinational team of scientists and engineers, humanity’s ‘makers and doers’. Right now, all we have is many years of research and theories, but HERA will revolutionise our understanding of asteroids and how to protect ourselves from them.”
“First, NASA will slam its DART spacecraft into the smaller asteroid at more than six kilometres a second. Then ESA comes in,” he added.
Brian May further revealed the part ESA will play in the plan. He said, “HERA will map the impact crater left by DART and measure the asteroid’s mass. Knowing this mass is key to determining what’s inside and knowing for certain whether we would be able to deflect it.”
"Next, come out the briefcase-sized CubeSats. If you think of HERA like an airplane, then CubeSats will operate more like drones," he added.
May further revealed how the CubeSats will allow the ESA to take more risks. He said, “They are able to take more risks, flying closer to the asteroid and carrying state-of-the-art instruments and eventually touching down.”
“The scale of this experiment is huge, one day these results could be crucial for saving our planet. HERA’s up-close observation after DART’s impact will help prove whether asteroids can be deflected,” he added. “It will prove whether this is an effective planetary defence technique,” My concluded.
It is worth mentioning here that next week, ESA will launch a telescope called Flyeye which will be able to scan space and identify any possible objects heading to Earth.