China announces plans for a new asteroid-deflecting mission

Two grey asteroids against a black background. A tiny spacecraft hurtles towards the asteroid on the left.
An illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft just before it hits Dimorphos | NASA

China’s space agency plans to send a spacecraft to slam into an asteroid, knocking it into a new — and hopefully safer — orbit. The prospective new mission will launch within the next four years, and was announced on Sunday by Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, according to Global Times, a state-run news outlet.

The country hasn’t yet determined which asteroid to target. The mission was announced as one part of a larger new planetary defense effort, which will seek to catalog and monitor near-Earth asteroids, especially those that might pose a threat to our planet. The effort would include a new warning system as well. Eventually, the plan is to identify an asteroid that might threaten Earth, and send…

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Author: Mary Beth Griggs