This month NASA will deliberately crash one of its spacecraft into an asteroid to test its planetary defense capabilities . The idea of the DART mission (Dual Asteroid Redirect Test) is to test what options we might have if we detect a dangerous asteroid heading towards Earth by seeing if hitting an asteroid would be effective in changing its course.
For testing, the DART spacecraft has been traveling towards a pair of asteroids since launching in November last year . During this time, the vehicle sent back its first images and the target asteroid was also imaged. Now the DART spacecraft has deployed a small satellite that will take pictures when the collision occurs.
The deployment of the LICIACube satellite is also of great importance for a smaller space agency. The Italian Space Agency commissioned the satellite in partnership with NASA.
HERA Will Follow DART Mission
Andrew Cheng , principal investigator at DART , said: “We are excited that LICIACube is on its way. We hope it will make a valuable contribution to DART. What it will witness and show will provide us with unique and important information that we may never see again.” said.
To gather more information on the effectiveness of the DART test, European Space Agency mission HERA plans to conduct a launch in November 2024 to also visit the asteroid system and see the effects of the collision in detail .