Mega-asteroids continue to worry space agencies, so China will also develop its own diversion program.
It is a frightening reality, but one that nevertheless hovers above our heads on the daily newspapers; despite the vigilance of all the actors concerned, it is not excluded that the Earth will one day end up crossing the path of a huge asteroid likely to eradicate our civilization. At present, the earth is still very helpless in the face of such a scenario… but it will soon be a little less so thanks to the new Chinese aerospace project.
Indeed, according to Gizmodo, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) recently spoke in a televised address. Its representatives unveiled a program that should lead to an emergency protocol to redirect a threatening asteroid; a theme recently explored by Leonardo DiCaprio and his friends in the comedy Don’t Look Up.
A space ram at the service of humanity
The first component of this program will be a surveillance cell; its objective will be to scan our cosmic neighborhood in search of asteroids likely to represent a danger. At first, his objective will be to spot one of these cosmic speeders.
For the moment, the CNSA has not yet determined the exact target. On the other hand, she already has a fairly clear idea of the treatment that will be reserved for her at the end of the mission, scheduled for 2025. Among the various approaches that could theoretically allow such a redirection, the Chinese authorities have decided in favor of the most obvious.
The concept is brutally simple: it is simply a matter of diverting the asteroid from its trajectory with a huge injection of kinetic energy. In other words, the CNSA did not plan to go overboard. The solution is even confusingly obvious: just hit the target head-on with an object thrown at full speed!
This is exactly the same concept that NASA is already betting on with Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). This mission, also dedicated to the defense of the planet, was launched in November 2024; she will soon arrive at her destination, a small celestial body named Dimorphos.
The first doomsday scenario to be ruled out?
This work, whether it comes from NASA, the CNSA or other actors, is eminently important. Even if this threat remains rather abstract for the general public, the objective remains quite simply to avoid an apocalypse coming from the sky. And this is not a statistical anomaly, but a real possibility; the dinosaurs know this all too well.
It is therefore urgent to test this approach, even if the concept itself is relatively simple and we could possibly consider setting up such a mission urgently if the situation required it; for example, there is no doubt that several major players in the sector, starting with SpaceX, would be able to provide the equipment to set up such a mission.
So is humanity already perfectly protected from asteroids? As it stands, this is not yet the case. But we also see that unlike pandemics, solar flares and other potentially cataclysmic events, this is one of the few end-of-civilization scenarios that humanity seems vaguely prepared for today. It’s better than nothing; we just have to hope that no one will militarize this concept…