What would we do if a dangerous asteroid is threatening to hit Earth? Is there any way of destroying or deflecting it? Such a scenario was explored in Science Fiction movies like Armageddon from over two decades ago, when the character played by Bruce Willis landed on an asteroid and planted a bomb in it.
But that was only a SF movie, and Bruce Willis is only an actor. The best news is that NASA is actively looking for feasible ways of dealing with a giant asteroid capable of doing a lot of damage to the Earth or even kill all of its life forms.
DART could save the day
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission (aka DART) will try to divert the trajectory of an asteroid in 2022 by hitting it with great force. The goal is to see if humanity can successfully deal with a ‘global killer’ in the future.
But even if the upcoming mission will be a success, there’s another thing to take into account: a meteor shower could be produced once the hit occurs, and it will enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
The target of DART is Didymos, which is a pair of near-Earth asteroids that travel around the sun. DART is aiming for the smaller asteroid called Didymoon, which is about 535 feet across and orbits its partner and also larger asteroid. The impact should change Didymoon’s 11.92-hour orbit by about 4 minutes.
Let’s not forget that a ‘global killer’ asteroid was the culprit for the extinction of the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. The impact created a huge crater in today’s Yucatan peninsula from Mexico. Many astronomers believe that the dreadful scenario will repeat itself someday. But hopefully, humanity will possess the necessary tools for deflecting any ‘global killer’.
The study of the hypothetical meteor shower was published in The Planetary Science Journal.