In 1998, the world faced a grave threat in the form of a giant asteroid that was hurtling its way towards the Earth and threatened to destroy the world as we know it. Thankfully, NASA was able to recruit a ragtag team that would eventually be dispatched to outer space and ultimately save the planet from mass destruction.
Of course, I’m not referring to any actual mission but the plot of Armageddon, the ultimate guilty pleasure and one of those movies that always seems to be playing on cable at any given time.
Luckily for us, the agency has never had to turn a bunch of oil drillers into astronauts over the course of a couple of weeks in an attempt to prevent humanity from suffering the same fate the dinosaurs did back in the day. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not preparing for the worst case scenario.
In the past year alone, a number of asteroids have rocketed past the planet—including one dubbed “The Death Comet” in addition to another that may or may not have been an alien spacecraft.
We’re now a few years away from facing one of the most imminent interstellar threats to date, and as of right now, NASA admits it doesn’t have much of a contingency plan. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not trying.
According to Thrillist, NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency for what they’re calling the “Double Asteroid Redirect Test” in an attempt to see if they can knock a couple of space rocks—called “Didymos” and “Didymoon”— (which I’m pretty sure are also Pokemon)—out of orbit.
The two asteroids that will be targeted will be seven million miles away from Earth at their closest point but make ideal test subjects due to their relatively small size (the latter is around the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza).
Here’s how things are going to go down:
NASA plans to launch its probe between 2020 and 2021, and expects it to smack into Didymoon in October 2022. After that, an ESA craft known as Hera will launch toward Didymos and Didymoon and investigate the crater created by DART a few years later to determine its “momentum transfer” and precisely how effective the deflection method worked.
While it’s still in development, the agency posted a video outlining the strategy.
They missed a serious opportunity to dub “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” over that clip but I assume licensing rights aren’t part of their yearly budget.
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