The very first fully-scaled mission to test a specific technology that would be used to defend Earth in the event of an asteroid or comet hazard has been launched by NASA.
NASA dubbed the mission the "Double Asteroid Redirection Test," and it involves sending a vending-machine-sized spacecraft to collide with a Great Pyramid of Giza-sized asteroid in an attempt to change the asteroid's orbit around its larger companion asteroid. NASA's spacecraft will be traveling at 15,000 mph, or 4 miles per second, when it collides with the asteroid named Dimorphos.
The results from this test will then be used to prepare for an asteroid threat, and if one ever presents itself, which it currently hasn't, researchers will have a much better idea of to handle the situation by taking already tested methods. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said, "At its core, DART is a mission of preparedness, and it is also a mission of unity. This international collaboration involves DART, ASI's LICIACube, and ESA's Hera investigations and science teams, which will follow up on this groundbreaking space mission."
NASA wrote in its announcement, "Just one part of NASA's larger planetary defense strategy, DART - built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland - will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid's motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes."
Adding, "DART will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it - a method of deflection called kinetic impact. The test will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered."
NASA expects that DART will hit Dimorphos between September 26 and October 1, 2022. For more information on this story, check out this link here.
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