- The US space agency NASA has launched a probe for the first time, which will crash into the asteroid Dimorphos next October, thereby changing its trajectory.
- The aircraft was launched on Wednesday morning using a “Falcon 9” rocket from the US state of California, according to NASA.
- With this mission, the researchers want to prepare for the fall of an asteroid that speeds straight to Earth.
“Asteroid Dimorphos: We’ll get you” – this is what NASA wrote shortly after the start of the mission at 7:30 p.m. Swiss time on the short message service Twitter and published a video of the rocket launch.
Nasa hopes that the “Dart” (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission, which costs around $ 330 million – the equivalent of around 308 million Swiss francs – will provide information on how the earth could be protected from approaching asteroids.
The asteroid’s orbit is said to be shorter
Dimorphos, a kind of moon of the asteroid Didymos with a diameter of around 160 meters, currently poses no threat to the earth according to NASA calculations.
The mission is designed in such a way that the asteroid should not pose any danger even after the impact of the probe, which has only one camera on board.
After the impact, the approximately twelve-hour orbit of Dimorphos is said to be at least 73 seconds and possibly up to ten minutes shorter. The Esa “Hera” mission is scheduled to start in 2024 to investigate the effects of the impact more closely.
Scientists are currently not aware of any asteroid that could race directly towards Earth in the foreseeable future – but researchers have identified around 27,000 asteroids near our planet, around 10,000 of which are more than 140 meters in diameter.