[과학][나이트포커스] Humanity’s first ‘asteroid impact’ experiment

■ Host: Lee Kwang-yeon anchor, Oh Dong-gun anchor
■ Cast: Dongwook Lim / Science Columnist

* The text below may differ from the actual broadcast content, so please check the broadcast for more accurate content.

[앵커]

Without subtitles, it’s like a scene from a movie. A historical experiment that can only be seen in movies has begun. In order to prevent a possible collision between the asteroid and the Earth, human technology changes the orbit of the asteroid, something like this.

[앵커]

The spacecraft that will push the asteroid into impact has already been launched. Of course, it is said that there will be many scientific achievements that can be achieved not only by changing the asteroid orbit, but also by testing the collision between spacecraft and asteroids. Night Focus Today, we will go over this in detail. Dongwook Lim, science columnist. Hello?

[앵커]

So, of course, it’s a potential risk. Potentially, it may not happen, but the first human experiment to prevent an asteroid from collided with Earth has begun. Presumably, it’s a movie we all have vivid memories of. Armageddon. How is it different from the movie?

[임동욱]

I remember Armageddon. Bruce Willis took the lead role. Even in the movie at that time, scientists and astronauts on Earth directly landed on the asteroid, excavated it, and put a nuclear bomb there and detonated it.

However, this satellite launched this time does not actually detonate it, it just makes it collide with a satellite called a kinetic impact body. So, you can understand it as experimenting how much the orbit actually changes after giving a very small impact.

[앵커]

It’s not an explosion, it’s a shock.

[앵커]

It could be seen as a slight push, but the spaceship has already been launched. We’ll give you a brief rundown of that launch, and then we’ll continue the story.

[앵커]

It’s really like a movie.

[앵커]

Now load the dart and fire. Can darts be called spaceships? And did you put it in a rocket that launches it?

[임동욱]

Yes, the name Dart is an abbreviation of the alphabet. It is an abbreviation of the name of the twin asteroid orbital correction experiment.

The reason it’s called a binary asteroid has a moon called Didymos at its core. Another asteroid about a quarter the size of Dimorphus is orbiting around Didymos. The task is to slightly change the orbit of the spacecraft by colliding it with Dimorphus.

[앵커]

It is a task to change the orbital trajectory. Looking at it now, both Didymos and Dimorphus are called asteroids. What is the difference between an asteroid and a meteorite?

[임동욱]

All of the things that travel in space together are what we call meteoroids. There are planets, there are moons, you know all these concepts, but this concept called meteoroids refers to objects that are smaller than that.

For example, if the radius is less than 10 km, it is called an asteroid. Among those asteroids, those that enter the atmosphere of a planet and begin to burn are called shooting stars or meteors.

And as a meteor falls, it splits and breaks, but the stone that survived nonetheless, that is, the stone that fell to the ground is called a meteorite.

[앵커]

Among the many meteorites, the one that falls to the ground is a meteorite. Among them, Dimorphos is said to be 160 meters in diameter and the size of a soccer field.

And the sending dart spacecraft is one 620 kg, the size of a compact car. I wonder how much the trajectory will be modified if it just collides, and if this really has a big impact. I wonder if this is a blow that can be avoided if the Earth is really in danger.

[임동욱]

Today, the asteroids Didymos and Dimorphus are about 500 million kilometers from Earth. So right now, it’s so far away that it’s hard to see with the naked eye, but these two planets are collectively called a twin asteroid because these two distant asteroids orbit each other like twins. This dart spaceship was launched through all calculations in order to accurately hit Dimorphus among them.

Then, at the end of September or early October of next year, at one of those two times, it collides with Dimorphus. But it’s not easy to hit it accurately by launching it from Earth. That’s why I have an autopilot system. So, the autopilot system starts working 4 hours before the collision, correcting the trajectory and causing the collision. When it collides, the speed is about 24,000 km/h. It is 6.6 km/s.

[앵커]

On the screen, I prepared it in seconds.

[임동욱]

It’s very fast. It strikes at such a high speed, but in reality the impact is minimal. The pit is only about 10m deep. It is expected that about 100 tons of rock will break, but it has little effect on the actual orbit, reducing the orbital period by only 37 seconds. And the effect of reducing the orbital speed by about 1%. So, you can think of this as an experiment.

[앵커]

Then, as you said, if you change the orbital period for more than 73 seconds, the experiment was successful to some extent. It can be seen that the purpose of the experiment is not to remove an asteroid, but to protect the earth from an asteroid collision. How do you understand?

I think there is a sense in itself of starting an experiment like this, and there is a purpose that I want to do through this experiment. What things are possible?

[임동욱]

Around the Earth, there are numerous objects that rush towards the Earth. You never know when those meteoroids will come to Earth. So, humanity must prepare for how to eliminate the dangers of those satellites, especially those called near-earth objects. So I was trying to open the space age.

Korea also entered the space age by successfully launching the Nuri-ho, and as an advanced country, it is like taking on the task of protecting the earth. So, although this experiment is being conducted now led by the United States, Korea should also be watching with interest.

And if asteroids collide with Earth in the future, there will be no difference between our country and other countries. Because everyone is a victim, all human beings on Earth must work together to come up with ideas and come up with scientific solutions. That’s why we’re paying attention to this launch.

[앵커]

If it succeeds, I think we will be able to see that things like calculating the universe, doing it accurately, and autopilot systems succeed. In a way, when you watch hero movies, you call them the Avengers. Saving the Earth. I have that feeling too. If so, I’m very curious about whether there are any asteroids that could actually collide with Earth.

[임동욱]

It is known that there are about 25,000 to 30,000 asteroids around the Earth when objects that are likely to collide with the Earth are selected. Some of them are so small that the probability of a collision goes like 0.000, and yet you don’t know.

If any one of them collides with the Earth, enormous damage will occur. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully observe which of them will come to Earth and prepare countermeasures according to the size.

[앵커]

Apophis, who passed by in the subtitles earlier, meant the god of destruction, but now, as the possibility of a collision in 2068 is raised, Apophis has become a subject of fear at one time. Please explain this too.

[임동욱]

I passed the Earth last March. I said that there is a high probability of a collision, but surprisingly, as a result of precise observation, he said that there would be no collision with the Earth for the next 100 years.

[앵커]

That’s why I’m off the watch list.

[임동욱]

Yes, that’s why I was so scared that I named it after the god of death and the god of destruction. In this cosmic concept, the collision crisis is very far from the actual distance. So, not in numbers, but on a cosmic level, it could be dangerous enough just to get close to it because it could change direction by being attracted to the Earth’s gravitational pull. So we have to keep looking at those parts.

Between Mars and Jupiter is a place called the asteroid belt. There are between one and two million asteroids here. We have to look at these parts to see which of them will collide with the Earth in the future, and there will also be meteors of a very small size that are unknown in the universe, so we have to keep an eye on those parts as well.

[앵커]

It’s a basic question though. If so, how much damage will it take if even one of them collides like this? Is it also a hypothesis that explains the cause of the extinction of dinosaurs?

[임동욱]

65 million years ago, a great meteorite fell on Mexico. The asteroid was said to be about 10 km in diameter.

[앵커]

Now we have collected examples and compare them with other Russian Tunguska or Russian Chelyabinsk. The diameter is very large.

[임동욱]

It was very large and at that time, it faced a mass extinction in which more than 70% of life on Earth became extinct. And it fell on Tunguska, Russia, on June 30, 1908, and it also caused tremendous damage, so that June 30 is designated as International Asteroid Day to commemorate it.

And in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013, a meteor with a diameter of only 20 m fell. At that time, a very big light was seen, and at that time I heard many shocking noises and there was a time when I was terrified. If it had fallen to the ground, it would have done as much damage as the Tunguska Explosion, so we’ll have to wait and see when this will come to Earth.

[앵커]

There is a part I missed for a while, and I’m curious, was it a spaceship and a dart? I’m curious as to which trajectory is supposed to change after the impact, but what’s the risk? What if it collides with an asteroid?

[임동욱]

After all, this satellite was created for collision. Observation satellites are separated 10 days before impact. So this satellite will broadcast the scene where the parent satellite collides vividly from the side. After that, we will approach up to 55km and take detailed photos.

However, it is not loaded with bombs, just thinking of hitting a heavy weight, so the dangers and such things are not great. And with Earth, you don’t have to worry about it changing its orbit or anything like that.

[앵커]

If this is successful, you can think of it as a considerable amount of technology. I wonder how much space technology and space competitiveness is in Korea. In fact, there is a saying that the core of the space industry is that there is rare capital that can be mined from asteroids like this. Therefore, it must be an important technology, but what level is our country?

[임동욱]

Korea has developed its own launch vehicle and successfully launched the Nuri-ho not long ago. Since there are very few countries in the world that have such technology, our space industry has grown enough to be proud of. However, why should we continue to work for the space industry? To this question, some companies are answering such questions as whether we can bring the minerals that asteroids have. Even under the space law, it is not illegal for civilians to mine minerals from these asteroids.

So, in fact, venture companies continue to conduct experiments like this in which they land on asteroids and get materials. You can find those minerals that are depleted on Earth, and if humans go out into more distant space, they need water or ice. We can take those things from asteroids and launch them again from there, so I think it’s a great opportunity to determine the future space age.

[앵커]

i See. An asteroid exploration race could begin. As we are global and global, I thought that we should broaden our horizons from global to space.

You are with Lim Dong-wook, a science columnist, and there was a report just today, so I will listen to you for help. drone bot. There are reports that dronebots are the future chosen by the population in a population cliff situation. Please explain dronebots.

[임동욱]

Dronebot is a combination of drone and robot. We and ordinary people can easily fly drones. However, most of these drones have a camera or test how far and how high they can fly, but in the case of the attack drones used by the US, they actually fly with missiles with tremendous destructive power.

However, this drone is originally called a drone that escorts the queen bee. So there are a lot of bees. That’s a lot. So, you can think of it as an existence capable of unpredictable and maneuverable attacks.

[앵커]

In fact, there is talk of building a combat system based on this in all units by 2030. Is this possible?

[임동욱]

Dronebot Combat System Vision 2030. It should be noted that the army was established. When it comes to drones, it is easy to think of the air force, but saying that the army is making these plans means that the future battle is not only the infantry fighting on the ground, but also the beings who provide support in the air as well as the convergence of combat missions. It means you have to do it.

When I watch various movies about World Wars I and II, when the soldiers are having a hard time winning, they say that it would be better if fighters would appear and provide air support. Then, you think that you will win the battle if you only provide air support, but in reality, the military must be stationed to end the battle and achieve a sure victory.

This means that the army will take control with dronebots and the army soldiers will actually occupy the target area, and this kind of battle will take place.

[앵커]

Are there any real examples of use in wars, etc., drones? I also remember that the US actually used it when killing dangerous terrorists in Afghanistan. How do you see it?

[임동욱]

The United States is now very active in using drones to eliminate dangerous people. It’s called a referee drone. It is called the assassin of the sky. It has the ability to be very precise and precise, or destroy only people, only cars, and even kill. It has a top speed of about 480 km/h, so it is difficult to hold it with a normal gun or cannon.

Having such an extremely fast and aggressive drone can instill fear that the enemy will appear when and where it will appear, and by combining it like a satellite, you can conduct battles from a remote location without sending soldiers to the local area, so you can gain an edge in battle. That’s a good technique for that.

[앵커]

How about drone technology in Korea? What level is it?

[임동욱]

During the Pyeongchang Olympics in Korea, drones flew in groups at that time. It was very cool to make various people shapes and emblems and things like that. Unfortunately, that technology was not ours. So there were a lot of people pointing out that part.

Since then, a lot of progress has been made. For example, drones using hydrogen fuel cells are being developed, or drones that carry people to the airport are being developed for urban air transportation. In addition, along with the trend of the 4th industrial revolution, various industries are discovered and some are delivered to islands or mountainous areas. We are developing comprehensively even in those areas.

[앵커]

Conversely, I don’t know who they are in our military area, but there may be problems where drones in other countries or drones with other purposes can collect information in some way, as we reported yesterday. This has not been revealed at all yet, and I just want to ask a question based on what has been reported.

This is our important facility. It was discovered that a drone crashed into the Incheon LNG of the Korea Urban Corporation. Of course, this could be plain content, but they say they don’t know where it was made. So, if we make an assumption, wouldn’t it be possible to use it for a bad purpose?

[임동욱]

Since this incident is focused on finding out who flew the drone, the problem is that such an incident can happen again and again in the future.

And since drones are not easily detected by radar and can fly so latently that they are not even visible at night, the defense system on how to protect these national important facilities from drones is also a lot of thought from now on. It looks like it should be applied quickly.

[앵커]

Is the government concerned about these issues?

[임동욱]

Yes, the government is aware of the dangers of drones at the same time as they develop drones, so they are leading so that they can develop within the scope of related laws, regulations, and standards.

[앵커]

All right. I will correct the mispronunciation of Korea Gas Corporation as ‘City Corporation’ a while ago. Night Focus Today, we were with Lim Dong-wook, science columnist. Thank you for your words today.

YTN Dongwook Lim ([email protected])

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