China plans to destroy asteroid in planetary defense test


Hulk punch

China plans to launch a spacecraft aimed at destroying a nearby asteroid, with the aim of testing the feasibility of defense against Earth-threatening asteroids such as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.

Researchers have outlined their plans in a recent article published in the Journal of Deep Space Exploration And spotted by The Planetary Society, He said a test mission should take place before 2030 and that an asteroid about 30 meters in diameter would be the target.

Previously, the researchers had proposed a different asteroid, called 2019 VL5, as a target for this test mission, but the paper appears to point to a new target with an equally cumbersome name: 2015 XF261.

According to the team, the proposed spacecraft will consist of two parts: an “observer and an impactor,” which together “are planned to be launched as a combination of two devices.”

The observer probe will first arrive at the asteroid and maneuver around it while analyzing it for three to six months. Then an impactor probe will arrive and strike the space rock while the observer probe studies the impact.

Deep consequences

NASA has been conducting its own tests for a planetary defense system, culminating in the 170-meter-wide 2022 rocket asteroid Dimorphos with NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — invoiced at the moment as “the world’s first demonstration of planetary defense technology.”

After DART hit the asteroid, NASA scientists concluded that the impact changed the satellite’s orbit and its shapeproving that it is possible to change the orbit of an asteroid.

To further protect the Earth, NASA has made the following development: NEO Surveyor (NEO stands for Near-Earth Object), a space telescope scheduled to launch in June 2028 that will detect objects in space that could pose a threat to Earth.

There are no known asteroids threatening Earth anytime soonbut scientists are still trying to figure out what the best course of action is if a solution ever comes.

While China is working on the same task despite tensions with AmericaIt’s reassuring to know that NASA isn’t the only space agency concerned about the safety of our home planet.

More about asteroids: NASA’s battering ram now has an asteroid in its sights that it will destroy

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