NASA has delayed the launch of its first-ever planetary defense mission aimed at deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids from colliding with Earth.
The mission, called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will send a spacecraft to test crash into the near-Earth binary asteroid system called Didymos, in 2022. NASA announced Feb. 17 that this year’s primary launch window of July 21 to Aug. 24 is no longer an option. Instead, the space agency is targeting a backup window that opens Nov. 24 and runs to Feb. 15, 2022, according to a statement from NASA.
The decision to postpone the launch was made by NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) senior leadership following a risk assessment of the DART project schedule. Delaying the launch of the mission will not affect the spacecraft’s arrival at its target, which is slated for October 2022, NASA officials said.
16 Psyche is one of the most massive objects in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — and it appears to be made entirely of metal worth approximately $10,000 quadrillion.
The study marks the first ultraviolet (UV) observations of the celestial object. New data reveals the asteroid may be made entirely of iron and nickel — found in the dense cores of planets.
“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” lead author Dr. Tracy Becker said in a statement. “Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”
A NEWLY discovered asteroid whizzed past Earth last night, coming closer to our planet than the Moon.
Asteroid 2020 RF3 flew within one lunar distance – the distance between the Earth and the Moon – making it the 61st asteroid to do so this year. Astronomers only discovered the asteroid on September 12, 2020, shortly before it made its close approach last night.
The asteroid is in a horrible orbit and has a 1% chance of striking Earth in just eight years. And — thank goodness — it doesn’t really exist.
It’s a fictitious asteroid that’s the focus of a realistic exercise devised for scientists and engineers from around the world who are attending the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference being held this week outside Washington, D.C.
A real asteroid of this size, should it ever hit the planet, could wipe out an entire city.
“This is a threat that could happen, even though it’s extremely unlikely,” says Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who created this realistic simulation. “Our goal here is to go through all of the steps that we would have to go through.”
He says a lot has been learned from three previous drills held at past international conferences and from other asteroid exercises that have been separately conducted by officials at NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.