Today NASA is conducting an experiment that could save mankind one day in the future.
- Tonight, NASA’s first technology designed to divert asteroid impacts is being tested.
- The test will see if targeting an asteroid with a collision can alter the trajectory of large interstellar objects and prevent them from striking the earth.
- “NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, will impact its target asteroid—which poses no threat to Earth,” says NASA.
- “NASA controllers will deliberately crash their $330 million DART robot spacecraft into an asteroid. The half-tonne probe will be traveling at more than four miles a second when it strikes its target, Dimorphos, and will be destroyed,” says The Guardian.
- “The scene will play out nearly 7 million miles from Earth,” says Bloomberg.
- The European Space Agency is planning to send a probe to the impacted asteroid in 2024 to study the crater left by DART.
- The test will be broadcasted tonight starting at 6 pm eastern time from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
- NASA is currently tracking no serious life-threatening asteroids.
Why it’s news
Asteroid impacts are very common, and Earth has experienced several major impacts in its history. An impact 66 million years ago was powerful enough to cause the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, some believe.
“We know asteroids have hit us in the past. These impacts are a natural process and they are going to happen in the future. We would like to stop the worst of them,” says astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons.
“Many smaller ones have yet to be detected, and they are still big enough to destroy entire cities and devastate large areas. We are mapping these smaller objects with increasing accuracy but we will have to be prepared to act if we find one that is on course for Earth. DART is the first step in ensuring we have the right technology to deal with the threat,” Fitzsimmons continues.
Anti-asteroid technology has never been tested and a successful test would prove the viability of such technology to divert major life-threatening impacts and preserve the human race further in the future.
“The DART mission is meant to prove out a technique in the field of planetary defense. Using algorithms previously used for military missile targeting, DART will impact Dimorphos, which is an orbiting moonlet of the larger asteroid Didymos… The plan is that the impact of the 1260-pound probe will cut Dimorphos’ orbital time around Didymos by a few minutes, thus demonstrating that humanity can affect the orbit of a body in space,” says Astronomy Magazine.