- The China National Space Administration has announced plans for a new asteroid-deflecting mission
- The spacecraft will identify an asteroid as a part of a larger new defense effort to assess near-Earth asteroids that pose a risk to Earth.
China’s space agency, China National Space Administration (CNSA) has reportedly planned to launch a spacecraft towards an asteroid, pushing it into a newer and potentially safer orbit.
Wu Yanhua, Deputy Director of the CNSA announced the prospective mission towards the end of last week, stating that the launch will be executed over the next four years.
The initiative – which is a part of an extensive new planetary defense effort – is yet to determine the exact asteroid to be targeted, and mainly aims to catalog and surveil all the near-Earth asteroids posing threats with a new warning system.
Ultimately, the idea of the project – which is currently in its infancy stage awaiting formal approval - is to detect an asteroid that is capable of causing destruction to Earth and send a spacecraft to strike it and change its orbit in the process.
With software for simulating asteroid impacts, the planetary defense project will perform trials and rehearsals illustrating the ideal course of action during a potential impact.
In January, Chinese officials released a white paper consisting of plans to examine a planetary defense system, following the planetary defense conference hosted by the country last October, indicating that the plans have been underway for a while now.
Meanwhile, NASA launched a spacecraft for its own asteroid-redirecting mission in November, even though it did not focus on any potentially threatening space entities at the time.
Later this year, NASA plans to target a tiny asteroid known as “Didymos” with its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), to avert the space rock off-course and retrieve data from the impact that could provide insights on future planetary defense efforts if needed.