The American space agency NASA recently presented plans for planetary defense against asteroid impacts. Now the Chinese space agency China National Space Administration CNSA is following suit. The plans include an early warning system and the development of appropriate countermeasures.
Protection against celestial bodies
As the deputy head of the CNSA, Yanhua Wu, explained on Chinese state television, in addition to the early warning system, software must also be developed that can simulate measures against potentially threatening asteroids and test and verify basic processes.
A mission planned for 2025 or 2026 aims to capture close-up images of a selected and potentially dangerous asteroid. The mission must then hit the target to change course. A similar mission is also currently being conducted by NASA – the DART mission is already on its way to collide with an asteroid.
China is also working on plans to build a defense system against near-terrestrial objects. This system must be able to be used for objects that are recognized too late to distract them with targeted missions. By 2025, the Middle Kingdom aims to significantly expand the means of observing, cataloging and recognizing nearby terrestrial objects.
Near-Earth asteroid as a research target
The European Space Agency (ESA) also has an asteroid program. It was launched in 2020 under the name “Hera” (after the Greek goddess). The purpose of this program is to investigate the extent to which a probe’s impact would affect an asteroid.
China is also working on a combined asteroid sampling and comet rendezvous mission. This will target the nearby terrestrial asteroid Kamo’oalewa, which is thought to have formed on the moon. The mission will then bring monsters to Earth, followed by a rendezvous with comet 311P/PANSTARRS in the main belt. The mission is scheduled to launch in the first half of this decade.