After the dinosaur incident, people are extremely cautious when it comes to the asteroid and our planet. Well, probably not because of this, but the asteroids pose a great threat to life if they hit the Earth. Have you ever wondered what the plan of action should be in such a scenario? So, there is NASA.
The International Academy of Astronautics will hold a planetary defense conference in 2019, where one of the events is an "asteroid impact exercise," where a fictional but real simulation of an asteroid will be tested to hit the Earth. The script is designed by NASA's NEO (CNEOS) Testing Center. The different approaches they discussed could ultimately act as a rescue solution for Earth objects themselves (NEOs), which are asteroids or comets that come within 50 million kilometers of Earth's orbit.
With about 1,000 asteroids close to Earth more than one kilometer, even the smallest probability of collision requires serious attention.
The simulation begins with the discovery of "astronomers" a potentially dangerous NEO called "2019 PDC". After following her for several months, they concluded that in 2027 there was a 1% chance of impact with the Earth. It's enough to put mankind at risk, and great preparation will be needed to control this event.
Agencies, such as NASA's Planet Defense Coordination Office (DPAC), the SEA segment of the Space Agency's Space Agency Agency and the International Aware Network Warning Network (IAWN), will be part of the final act. This will be the sixth time NASA participates in a NEO impact exercise and learn a few key things. One of them includes what kind of information is requested by disaster managers, which is understandably little to do with the specifications of the asteroid. "What emergency managers want to know is when, where and how an asteroid will affect, as well as the type and extent of the damage that can happen," Levitius Lewis of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.
So, how are they planning to keep us in the event of such an incident? The approach involves breaking into an asteroid or moon to alter the trajectory of the course. The first mission is scheduled for June 2021, as part of NASA's Double Asteroid Diversion Test (DART). In cooperation with SpaceX, one of the Falcon 9 missiles will be fired in the direction of the asteroid Didimos, which will pass through Earth in October 2022 along with its small satellite called Didymoon. A system like this, where two asteroids orbiting together is called a binary asteroid. While Didimos does not face a threat to our planet, it will be a good opportunity to check if the DART spacecraft can actually change the orbit through a technique called "kinetic deviations". If things go according to the planned, 500kg DART will fall in the moon of the asteroid at about 6 kilometers per hour, which will result in a change in the orbital velocity, and thus the path of Didimos.
As it sounds like this mission, it is still quite ambitious and the success rate may not be very high. The European Space Agency "Hera" will carry out the next mission to check the changes and if the impact worked. From a distance of about 200 meters, it will deploy lasers, a star tracker, and a thermal infrared camera to check the success of a "redirecting asteroids". However, we will have to live in a fair bit of uncertainty, because the Hera satellite will reach the asteroid in 2026, about three years after leaving the Earth.