Story at a glance

  • The space agency plans to launch a spacecraft Tuesday night that will deliberately slam into an asteroid more than 6 million miles away at speeds upwards of 15,000 miles per hour.
  • The goal of the test mission is to determine whether intentionally crashing an object into an asteroid is an effective way of changing its course, should an asteroid ever set its sights on Earth.
  • The DART spacecraft is set to launch Tuesday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

NASA is gearing up to test a technique that may one day be used to defend Earth from an incoming asteroid. 

The space agency plans to launch a spacecraft Tuesday night that will deliberately slam into an asteroid more than 6 million miles away at speeds upwards of 15,000 miles per hour to observe how the asteroid’s trajectory shifts. 

While the asteroid poses absolutely no threat to humanity, the goal of the test mission is to determine whether intentionally crashing an object into an asteroid is an effective way of changing its course, should an asteroid ever set its sights on Earth. 

The mission, dubbed the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will utilize what NASA calls the kinetic impactor technique. DART’s target will be a binary asteroid dubbed Didymos, which is an asteroid system made up of a 780-meter asteroid and a smaller “moonlet” measuring 160 meters across. 


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


Using cameras and autonomous navigation, the spacecraft will deliberately crash into the moonlet, called Dimorphos, at a speed of 6.6 kilometers per second, according to NASA.

“For a mission like DART to work, it’s going to be important for us to discover any potentially hazardous asteroids in plenty of time to give us ample opportunity to identify the hazards and to develop the mitigation techniques so that we can respond appropriately,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said during a news conference Sunday

“The DART mission is a key test that NASA and other agencies want to perform before we have an actual need. And DART is going to help us develop and refine our asteroid kinetic impactor computer models, providing further insights into how we can deflect potentially dangerous near-Earth objects in the future,” 

The DART spacecraft is set to launch Tuesday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

The spacecraft is scheduled to hit Didymos’ moonlet some time in late September or early October 2022. 


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

EXPERTS PREDICT AN ALARMING SURGE OF US COVID-19 CASES THIS WINTER

HUGE NEW STUDY FINDS MASKS MOST EFFECTIVE PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURE IN FIGHTING COVID-19

‘HAMILTON’ STAR LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA FIRES BACK AT CANCEL CULTURE

BIBLICAL PLAGUE OF DEADLY SCORPIONS WASHES OVER STREETS IN EGYPT

SHARKS SPOTTED IN FAMOUS RIVER THAT RUNS THROUGH LONDON


 

Published on Nov 22, 2021