NASA confirms that crashing a spacecraft into an Earth-bound asteroid could prevent impact. Sweet Meteor of Death hardest hit.
As of the preparation of this report, Asteroid 2023 DQ has already completed its closest approach to the Earth at a distance of just 2.3 million kilometers, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The Jerusalem Post had a fun take on the size of the Near Earth Object, expressing its size in camels.
A massive asteroid the size of 112 Dromedary camels is set to pass by Earth on Wednesday, the holiday of Shushan Purim, according to NASA’s asteroid tracker.
The asteroid in question has been designated 2023 DQ, having been discovered fairly recently this year, according to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Its arrival also coincides with Shushan Purim, which is when Purim is celebrated in a select few cities, such as Jerusalem.
Asteroid 2023 DQ is pretty large, all things considered, with NASA estimating its maximum diameter at 270 meters.
For comparison, the average Dromedary camel, meaning the large single-humped camels, can grow to be around 2.4 meters in height. This means that the diameter of this asteroid is as much as over 112 Dromedary camels stacked atop one another foot to hump.
While 2.3 million miles may seem like a clear miss, it is still close enough. Therefore, I can report some good news: NASA’s DART testing (which we have covered at Legal Insurrection) has confirmed that crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid could alter its trajectory, protecting Earth from a potential doomsday scenario.
…[O]n March 1, four papers published in the journal Nature elaborated on how this type of mission — a “kinetic impactor” — could be effective at altering the trajectory of an asteroid.
A key element to this technique is early detection. Unlike the movie “Armageddon,” in which the asteroid was discovered last-minute, crashing into an asteroid works best when that rock is years, preferably decades, from striking the Earth.
“The results demonstrate how successful the kinetic impactor technique can be — paving the way for a bright future for planetary defense,” Jason Kalirai, civil space mission area executive at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory that led the DART investigation team, said in a news release.
The authors of the first paper published March 1 note that the DART spacecraft’s ability to hit the asteroid autonomously is a critical first step toward making these planetary defense missions a reality.
The second paper determined that Dimorphos’ orbit was changed by 33 minutes, plus or minus 1 minute. This larger-than-expected change in orbit suggests that recoil from material flung off the asteroid and ejected into space also contributed to changing the asteroid’s orbit.
The third paper, calculating change in momentum, found the spacecraft slowed the asteroid’s speed along its orbit by about 2.7 millimeters per second.
The final paper examines how crashing into Dimorphos created an “active asteroid,” which is a space rock that orbits like an asteroid but has a tail of material like a comet.
The new protection might save Valentine’s Day 2046.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said they have been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth on Feb. 14, 2046, when it passes the planet at a distance of about 1.1 million miles.
According to NASA, asteroid 2023 DW is roughly 162 feet wide (roughly as wide as an NFL football field) and will take 271 days to complete one solar orbit.
The new asteroid protection system is good news for everyone except the Sweet Meteor of Death and those who would welcome it!
Oh sweet meteor of death, take us now! pic.twitter.com/n9OTiTu2Yc
— William Munny (@quazoly) February 28, 2023
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