China's Deep Space Exploration Near-Earth Asteroid Defense Task and Future Plans

TapTechNews July 11th news, in the next 15 years, China's deep space exploration will demonstrate and verify the implementation of ten major engineering tasks in three fields such as lunar exploration, planetary exploration, and launch vehicle technology, including the near-Earth asteroid defense task.

This plan was initially announced in April 2023, and since then, it has been publicly soliciting task names, task plans, and task schemes globally, but the latest progress has not been announced yet.

The Deep Space Exploration Laboratory of the National Space Administration mentioned in a competition question that China's first near-Earth asteroid defense task plans to implement a kinetic impact demonstration and verification experiment around 2030, and has initially clearly identified asteroid 2015XF261 as the target; the long-term plan is to design 3 to 5 near-Earth asteroid defense tasks for 2025 to 2035.

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TapTechNews has learned that the diameter of 2015XF261 is about 34.3 meters, the semi-major axis is 0.9902682 au, the inclination is 0.7934°, the eccentricity is 0.3192421, the brightest apparent magnitude is about 20.25, and the absolute magnitude is 25.0.

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Last year, when Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Project, the director and chief scientist of the Deep Space Exploration Laboratory, and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, introduced this task, he also mentioned:

For the extremely small probability and extremely great hazard event of a near-Earth asteroid hitting the Earth, we will implement a kinetic impact on an asteroid tens of millions of kilometers away to change its running orbit, and conduct an impact effect assessment on orbit to achieve 'hitting accurately, pushing effectively, measuring accurately, and explaining clearly.

According to the introduction, because the asteroid body is too small, it cannot land like the Moon and Mars. We call the landing method of the asteroid 'attachment'. It's like slowly approaching the spacecraft and then striving to sample a little asteroid sample and bring it back to the Earth.

One of the key points of asteroid exploration is to study the possibility of asteroids hitting the Earth. What if we find that a small celestial body is going to hit the Earth? Wu Weiren disclosed that our country is formulating a development plan in this regard, including many aspects such as detection, early warning, disposal, and rescue.

He said that when a small celestial body flies over from beyond Mars, first launch a detector to determine its orbit, and then launch an impactor to change its orbit. This is also a plan that we will implement within the next ten years.

We are now preparing to implement a task for the defense of small celestial bodies, that is, aiming at a small celestial body of several tens of meters. It has flown over from beyond Mars. After flying over, we predict that it will pose a serious threat to the Earth. Then we will launch a detector to detect it. After detecting, determine its orbit. Then we hope to launch an impactor at about 10 million kilometers to change its orbit. This is what we will implement within the next ten years.