Asteroid Blaster: Adams presents on planetary defense for Science Café


FHSU’s Paul Adams gave a presentation on NASA’s new Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) at Monday’s Science Café meeting.

Based on a collision-oriented asteroid deflection strategy, the DART Mission is the first kinetic impactor project of its kind. 

The venture by NASA scientists utilizes a new satellite designed to track down and make contact with the Dimorphos asteroid this coming Monday. 

Adams illustrated the mission with an analogy: “It’s like smacking a vending machine into the Pyramid of Giza.”

“Will it deflect the Pyramid of Giza? Not much, but enough,” Adams said.

A vending machine equipped with a xenon ion thruster traveling at 15,000 mph, that is.

Before impact, the system is designed to deploy a smaller satellite, LICIACube, to record the collision. 

Adams said LIACIACube’s camera was inspired by the New Horizons satellite used to explore Pluto up close. 

The project will be an excellent opportunity for scientists to gather data regarding the validity and practicality of this asteroid defense strategy.

For those looking to learn more about the mission, the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins hosts a countdown to DART’s contact with the Dimorphos. 

Next month, Laura Wilson will deliver a presentation titled “Hell’s Aquarium” on October 24th, and students are welcome to attend.

Science Café meetings are located at The Venue on Vine Street and are free and open to the public.

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