Asteroid day June 30 and NASA, ESA collaborating on 2022-2026 double asteroid missions

The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA will each send a mission to the same binary asteroid to test if they can impact it alter its orbit.

In 2022, a NASA mission called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will collide with Didymoon when the system will come 11 million kilometers close to Earth. The DART spacecraft will achieve the kinetic impact by deliberately crashing itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6 km/s, with the aid of an onboard camera and sophisticated autonomous navigation software. The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, enough to be measured using telescopes on Earth.

The DART spacecraft will utilize the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster – Commercial (NEXT-C) solar electric propulsion system as its primary in-space propulsion system. NEXT-C is the next generation system that is based on the Dawn spacecraft propulsion system and was developed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. By utilizing electric propulsion, DART is able to gain significant flexibility to the mission timeline and widen the launch window, as well as decrease the cost of the of the launch vehicle that gets the mission off Earth and into orbit.

In 2026, the ESA will sendHera spacecraft would reach Didymos in 2026, a few years after the double asteroid system is deflected by NASA DART spacecraft. Hera mission will create detailed maps of the surface and interior structure of binary system by using high-resolution visual, laser and radio technology.

The primary body Didymos is approximately 800 meters across, which is orbited by a 170 meters secondary body or moonlet called Didymoon. Hera will attempt to learn more about this system.

Tomorrow (June 28) the annual briefing on the State of Asteroid Science, Discovery and Planetary Defense will be presented by the Asteroid Foundation as part of Asteroid Day LIVE from Luxembourg.

Asteroid Day was co-founded in 2014, by Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Danica Remy, B612 President, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and filmmaker Grig Richters. Asteroid Day is held on 30 June each year to mark the date of Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which devastated over 2,000 km2 of forest in 1908.

In 2016, the United Nations declared Asteroid Day to be a global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids. Major sponsors of Asteroid Day include the Government of Luxembourg, B612 Foundation, Broadcasting Centre Europe (BCE), SES, and Tomorrow Street, a joint venture of Vodaphone and Technoport. Asteroid Day is a program of the Asteroid Foundation, a Luxembourg-based nonprofit organization

The National Air and Space Museum will host “Asteroid Day: Defending Planet Earth” June 30 at the museum in Washington, D.C.

* Jim Zimbelman, geologist in the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, who will speak on the importance of impacts throughout the solar system.
* NASA astronaut Tom Jones will discuss the asteroid hazard from a scientist-astronaut’s perspective, and
* NASA scientists Lindley Johnson and Kelly Fast will speak about NASA’s planetary defense activities.
* The panel will be moderated by Cheryl Reed, who works on the asteroid deflection demonstration mission at the Applied Physics Laboratory.