It sounds a bit like Hollywood hype, but it’s true — NASA will launch a spaceship and let it hit an asteroid satellite, according tomedia reports. The satellite is called Dimorphos, which means “two forms.” NASA’s “Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) mission will reach an asteroid named Didymos in 2022, as part of a demonstration of the asteroid deflection system, which aims to redirect space rocks and move them away from Earth.”
Didymos’ satellite, which was provisionally named “Didymos B”, was the target of the exercise, but this week the International Astronomical Union officially named it “Dimorphos”.
DART task demo
The European Space Agency (ESA) says Dimorphos is about the size of Egypt’s Great Pyramid.
DART is designed for power shock, which means it will hit Dimorphos and push it. If successful, this approach could be used in the future to move asteroids that threaten Earth into safer orbits. This is arguably a more realistic version of the 1998 action sci-fi film Doomsday.
Planetary scientist and DART team member Kleomenis Tsiganis said in a NASA statement Tuesday that Dimorphos means “two forms,” reflecting the status of the object as the first object to be dramatically altered by humans.
It is reported that the DART mission is scheduled to start in 2021.