A NASA spacecraft will deliberately slam into an asteroid called Dimorphos in the early hours of Tuesday morning to see if this kind of kinetic impact can help deflect an asteroid posing a threat to Earth.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, spacecraft is about the size of a school bus, CNN reported.
It has been traveling to reach its asteroid target since launching in November 2021 and will arrive at the asteroid system at 03:44 Tuesday Kabul time.
“We are moving an asteroid,” said Tom Statler, NASA program scientist for the DART mission. “We are changing the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Humanity has never done that before.”
The spacecraft is heading for a double-asteroid system, where a tiny “moon” asteroid, named Dimorphos, orbits a larger asteroid, Didymos.
Didymos. which means “twin” in Greek, is roughly 780 meters in diameter. Dimorphos measures 160 meters across, and its name means “two forms.”
At the time of impact, Didymos and Dimorphos will be relatively close to Earth — within 11 million kilometers, CNN reported.
The spacecraft is about 100 times smaller than Dimorphos, so it won’t obliterate the asteroid. Instead, DART will try to change the asteroid’s speed and path in space.
A briefcase-size satellite from the Italian Space Agency is traveling behind DART to record what happens from a safe perspective.
Three minutes after impact, the satellite, LICIACube, will fly past Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume and maybe even spy on the impact crater.
The images and video, while not immediately available, will be streamed back to Earth in the days and weeks following the collision.
The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact.
No asteroids are currently on a direct impact course with Earth, but more than 27,000 near-Earth asteroids exist in all shapes and sizes.
The valuable data collected by DART will contribute to planetary defense strategies, especially the understanding of what kind of force can shift the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid that could collide with our planet.
China rocket taking 3 to space station to blast off Tuesday
A rocket carrying three astronauts to finish building China’s space station will blast off Tuesday amid intensifying competition with the US, the government said Monday,
The crew includes a veteran of a 2005 space mission and two first-time astronauts, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
The Shenzhou-15 mission will take off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert at 11:08 p.m. Tuesday night, the agency said. A Long March-2F carrier rocket, China’s standard workhorse for crewed missions, will be used to sling it into space, it said.
The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and crewed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last “in the construction phase of China’s space station,” agency official Ji Qiming told reporters Monday.
Fei, 57, is a veteran of the 2005 four-day Shenzhou-6 mission, the second time China sent a human into space. Deng and Zhang are making their first space flights, AP reported.
The station’s third and final module docked with the station earlier this month, one of the last steps in China’s more than decade-long effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit.
The astronauts will overlap briefly onboard the station, named Tiangong, with the previous crew, who arrived in early June for a six-month stay.
After the Shenzhou-15 spaceship makes an automated docking with the Tianhe core modules’ front port, the station will be expanded to its maximum size, with three modules and three spaceships for a total mass of nearly 100 tons, Ji said.
It will also be at maximum capacity for several days. Tiangong has room to accommodate six astronauts at a time and the handover will take about a week. Previous missions to the space station have taken about 13 hours from liftoff to docking.
The permanent Chinese station weighs about 66 tons — a fraction of the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 465 tons.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft enters lunar orbit
NASA’s Orion spacecraft was placed in lunar orbit on Friday, as it neared the halfway mark of its test flight.
About ten days after the spacecraft blasted off from Florida bound for the moon, flight controllers “successfully performed a burn to insert Orion into a distant retrograde orbit,” NASA said on its website.
According to the US space agency, Orion will fly about 64,400 kilometers above the moon.
Orion is expected to take astronauts to the moon in the years to come. This first test flight without a crew on board is intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle.
While in lunar orbit, flight controllers will monitor Orion’s key systems and perform checks while in the environment of deep space, the agency said.
The spacecraft will reach a maximum distance of almost 432,000 kilometers from the Earth in a few days. That will set a new distance record for a capsule designed to carry people.
It will take the capsule about a week to perform a half orbit around the moon, after which it will exit the lunar orbit again to begin its return to the Earth.
Orion’s landing in the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for December 11, after just over 25 days of flight.
The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which aims to take astronauts around the moon without landing in 2024.
It will be followed by the Artemis 3 mission, which is expected to finally mark the return of humans to the lunar surface in 2025.
NASA aims to land US astronauts on the moon again for the first time in almost 50 years. The US sent 12 astronauts to the moon between 1969 and 1972.
Pakistan-made footballs make it to this year’s FIFA World Cup
Pakistan, ranked 194th in FIFA ranking, won’t be at Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022 but Pakistan-made footballs will be at the world’s most prestigious sporting event.
Pakistan is one of the suppliers of the official match ball “Al Rihla” for Qatar World Cup.
Pakistan’s Forward Sports, in the city of Sialkot, is one of two manufacturers that have provided FIFA with at least 300,000 balls for this event. The other company is a China-based firm.
Forward Sports told local media it has produced about one-third of the total number of balls, called Al Rihla, which is Arabic for “the journey” and that the ball was unveiled in March by German sportswear company Adidas as the official World Cup ball.
This was the third successive contract after the company also landed deals for the 2014 and 2018 World Cup events.
“There is a match ball — used by players during the international game. But there is another — the more economical balls that are sold in the open market. We have a 35 percent share in match balls (for 2022), but a substantially higher proportion of the open-market product at around 70 percent,” Hassan Masood, director at Forward Sports, was quoted as saying in Business Recorder.
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