China plans to send an impactor to a near-Earth asteroid that would be “potentially” dangerous to Earth around 2025. The mission is one of the milestones of the newly created planetary protection program.
For now, the mission is being designed. The target asteroid has not yet been selected. The program would consist of setting up a surveillance system and developing models of operations against an NEO . Then, the Cnsa wants the mission to make some close observations of the object before sending an impactor there to deviate its route .
Of course, this mission is experimental. This is to verify the ability of a robotic mission to deflect the path of a small body that would be threatening to the Earth, like NASA’s Dart mission . The target will probably be a small asteroid in order to better see the effects of the impact on its trajectory.
The announcement was made on Sunday April 24 on the Chinese media CCTV by Wu Yanhua, the deputy director of the Chinese space agency (the Cnsa), on the occasion of the day of the 52nd anniversary of the putting into orbit of the very first Chinese satellite. Wu Yanhua said the mission would be done by 2025 or 2026.
China launches planetary protection program
The first thoughts date back to October 2021, when China organized its first planetary defense conference.
The State intends to put in place by 2025 a device capable of cataloging, tracking and monitoring these objects which can potentially threaten the Earth by passing nearby.
China also wants to set up a rapid response system. It is within this framework that this diversion mission falls, for the sole purpose of demonstration.
China has already flown over an asteroid in December 2022, with the Chang’e 2 orbital lunar probe which was then on a mission extension when it took its shots of Toutatis. An asteroid sample return mission is also planned , with liftoff by 2025.