China hopes to redirect a nearby asteroid in the next four years

Artist's impression of Dimorphos shortly after being hit by NASA's DART spacecraft.  China's proposed kinetic impaction test would likely use a similar strategy.

Artist’s impression of Dimorphos shortly after being struck by NASA’s DART spacecraft. China’s proposed kinetic impaction test would likely use a similar strategy.
Image: THAT

The global effort to protect Earth from dangerous asteroids will grow stronger, as China has announced its intentions to test an asteroid redirection system starting in 2025.

Speaking to China Central Television on Sunday, Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), outlined China’s preliminary plans to embark on the planetary defense project, according to the Chinese state news agency Global Times. Wu’s comments coincided with Space Day, an annual event commemorating the 1970 launch of China’s first satellite, Dongfanghong-1, in 1970.

For the proposed test, Wu said a probe would closely examine a near-Earth object before crashing into it. known as kinetic impaction, the idea is to alter the orbital path of a threatening asteroid by directing a large, high-speed spacecraft towards the object. NASA is currently running a similar test, known as the Double asteroid redirection testor DART, which seeks to deliberately crash a space probe into Dimorphos, a small asteroid, later this year.

The Global Times says that the CNSA project is in its infancy and is still being reviewed for approval. The Chinese space agency is targeting 2025 or 2026 to conduct the test, a timeline that coincides with the end of the 14th period of China’s five-year plan, according to Wu.

In addition, Wu said that the CNSA hopes to develop a ground-based monitoring and warning system to analyze and catalog potentially dangerous near-Earth objects. No further details were given, but the system is likely to emulate NASA’s. Sentinel-II monitoring system, which autonomously assesses the risks of asteroid impact. Software designed to simulate the risks posed by asteroids and simulation exercises to rehearse the defense process are also planned, according to the Global Times, adding that China is “taking responsibility as a major world power in protecting the Earth.” with other countries”. The proposed monitoring and warning system would precede the asteroid mitigation test, Wu said.

Having more eyes in the sky is a good thing. My hope is that CNSA, NASA and other space agencies and astronomical groups pool their resources to ensure that threatening asteroids are not missed and to coordinate these efforts in a meaningful way. POT He says it is currently tracking 28,000 near-Earth objects and about 3,000 are added to the list each year.

The proposed CNSA the program and the kinetic impaction test are good news and another sign of China’s ongoing ambitions in space and space exploration. The country’s space-based initiatives are advancing rapidly, as evidenced by its robot mole Y Martian missions and its nascent space station, what is being done available to foreign astronauts, including space tourists.

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