Beijing plans to ‘track and attack’ an asteroid to change its orbit as early as 2025, senior official says
China is seeking to build a system that can effectively monitor asteroids and potentially alter their trajectory to protect Earth from a possible impact.
Deputy Director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), Wu Yanhua, revealed on Sunday that Beijing plans to hit an asteroid as part of an experiment sometime in 2025.
There are plans to set up a near-Earth asteroid monitoring and defense system that would also potentially be able to protect spacecraft, Wu told China Central Television during this year’s Space Day of China event. .
The system, which would include both ground and space elements, would catalog and analyze asteroids to determine which ones pose a potential threat to Earth or humanity’s activities in space. In particular, the system would involve a computer simulation framework that would model potential asteroid impacts, he explained.
The project is still pending approval by Chinese authorities, the Global Times reported, adding that it requires “coordination of several departments.”
China isn’t the only nation concerned about the threat asteroids could pose to Earth. NASA has also developed a similar project. In November 2021, the US space agency launched a probe designed to strike a small asteroid to test whether it is possible to alter its trajectory by impact and whether this can provide an effective planetary defense against such a threat.
Mounted on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, the probe, called DART, is supposed to hit a small space rock orbiting a larger asteroid, changing the moon’s speed by a fraction of a percent – but enough to be observed and measured from Earth. . The probe should reach its target about 10 months after its launch.
No known asteroid capable of inflicting serious damage is on a collision course with Earth in the next 100 years, NASA said last October. However, the agency added that 60% of these space rocks may actually remain undiscovered.
A meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013. Although the object burned up in the atmosphere and only small fragments reached Earth, the explosion injured more than 1,600, including dozens hospitalized.
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