The agencies will adjust the trajectories of space objects that are likely to collide with the Earth.
There’s a serious and very real threat of large asteroids colliding with the Earth. Thousands of astronomers around the globe are tracking the movements of space objects and identifying the ones that present a risk to the Earth’s population.
NASA and ESA, the space agencies of the United States and Europe, have decided to work together to launch a mission to protect the Earth from the threat of asteroids. NASA has identified approximately 2000 asteroids in the Solar System that might theoretically present a risk to the Earth. At present, the two most dangerous ones are Bennu and Didymos - two asteroids whose trajectories cross paths with the trajectory of the Earth.
As part of the new DART mission, the agencies will send out a special device to Didymos in 2021, which will collide with the asteroid and change its trajectory. The European satellite LICIACube will also be sent to the asteroid to document the collision.
ESA is planning to launch another device called Hera in 2024. It will study the asteroid after the collision and determine how much its trajectory has changed.
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