Published On: Tue, Aug 20th, 2019

Asteroid warning: Didymos headed for earth – ‘Mountain with Great Pyramid’ attached | Science | News


The main rock of the double asteroid is called Didymos and the smaller one is called Didymoon. The pair are described by the ESA as a “mountain in the sky with another rock the size of the Great Pyramid swinging around it” and an official video explaining the mission to crash a space probe into the asteroids says: “Just the seemingly tiny moon would be big enough to destroy a city.” In November European space ministers are set to back the HERA project – humanity’s first mission to land on an asteroid soley to figure out how to destroy it. Astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May has been chosen as the public face of the European arm of the mission and has explained the perils and difficulties in a video for the European Space Agency (ESA), who will be taking on the heart-stopping mission.

He warned: “Imagine a mountain in the sky, with another rock the size of the Great Pyramid swinging around it – that’s Didymos.”

“And just the seemingly tiny moon would be big enough to destroy a city if it were to collide with the Earth.

“But we’re going to find out if it’s possible to deflect it.”

He added: “This is going to be really, really hard – aiming at a 160 metre-wide target across millions of kilometres of void.”

“Could we stop an asteroid hitting our planet Earth?

“The dinosaurs couldn’t, but we humans have the benefit of knowledge and science on our side.”

The ESA said in a statement the mission will “revolutionise our understanding of asteroids and how to protect ourselves from them”, implying the threat could be far greater in the not-so-distant future.

The terrifying assignment has been called Hera.

READ MORE: God of Chaos: The asteroid which could blast Earth

“The Hera mission will be presented to ESA’s Space19+ meeting this November, where Europe’s space ministers will take a final decision on flying the mission, as part of the Agency’s broader planetary defence initiatives that aim to protect European and world citizens.”

Didymos is a sub-kilometer asteroid and synchronous binary system, classified as potentially hazardous asteroid and near-Earth object.

The larger asteroid has a smaller ‘moon’ orbiting it.

This gives the asteroid its name Didymos, which means ‘twin’ in Greek. Asteroids of all sizes have been pummelling Earth for billions of years.

Earth is bombarded with more than 100 tons of dust and sand-sized particles every day.

But only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten life on Earth arrives.

Didymoon will easily be the smallest asteroid ever explored, meaning the space rock will provide insights into the cohesion of material in an environment of negligible gravity – more than a million times weaker than Earth’s.



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