It's part of a double asteroid system — named after the Greek word for twins, Didymos — in which it orbits another 800-meter asteroid about a kilometer away. (Representational photo)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will attempt to throw an asteroid out of the orbit for the first time in 2022 for which it has approved the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) project. The asteroid that goes by the name Didymoon, is a moon asteroid about 150 meters tall. It's part of a double asteroid system — named after the Greek word for twins, Didymos — in which it orbits another 800-meter asteroid about a kilometer away.
The spacecraft will also be accompanied by Hera, a European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft called Hera, which will be responsible for collating data about the asteroid — however, according to Space, it won't be on-site during the impact, but it will be present afterward, as reported by the Business Insider.
According to the ESA, when Hera launches, it will be accompanied by two small CubeSats — which are nanosatellites — that will record additional data, such as the gravitational field and the internal structure of the asteroid.
The two satellites will be released around the asteroids and will land on the two space rocks.
"DART would be NASA's first mission to demonstrate what's known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact," Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.
The idea is that the DART spacecraft, which weighs in at about 500 kilograms, will hit the asteroid at 6 kilometers per second, changing its orbital velocity around Didymos by approximately 0.4 millimeters per second. This may sound like a negligible figure, but the reorientation will be substantial enough to be measured from Earth with telescopes, the Business Insider reported.
The launch of the mission is scheduled to take place between December 2020 and May 2021.