Home / News / World /  NASA's DART asteroid-hunting mission can turn disastrous…: Read here why

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, will hit a target asteroid (which poses no threat to our planet) on 26 September.

This test will show a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it to change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be measured using ground-based telescopes. DART will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered, NASA said about the mission in its website.

However, the mission can go all wrong and can cause damage to the human race in case the technology falls into the wrong hands. Given the immense violence potential it has, there will always be the question of whether it could be used for war in the future.   

An HT Tech report cited, in their 1964 book Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, astronomers Dandridge Cole and Donald Cox envisioned manoeuvring asteroids to serve as the ultimate deterrent, a "planetoid bomb". At the time, these plans were advanced as solutions to the threat of nuclear war, specifically to the vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons based on Earth. Never attempted, these schemes were shockingly extreme, even among the apocalyptic military speculations of the 1950s and 1960s.

Cole and Cox wrote that a "captured planetoid" of between 2 kilometres and 8 kilometres in diameter would have the "impact energy equivalent to several million megatons", would create a crater 30 to 80 kilometres in diameter, and "would destroy whole countries through Earth shock effects". They hastened to add that such devastation would not be anything near as bad" as a general nuclear war because there would be "no nuclear fallout carried by the winds to all parts of the Earth".

A captured planetoid would be the ideal deterrent system", they said, because it could not be de-orbited in less than several hours and "would not be feared by a potential enemy as a surprise attack weapon". Furthermore, "an onrushing planetoid" could not be intercepted or deflected "even if detected several days before impact". Such an attack might even be carried out without much danger of retaliation" because it would be difficult to distinguish from a "natural catastrophe", the report also said. 

The entire episode might seem like an act of a criminal mind, but if a nation wants then it can be used for more dangerous mission. 

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