Asteroid Smasher Set to Launch This Month
NASA is ready to launch a spacecraft that will smash into a big asteroid to make it change its course away from Earth.
WASHINGTON — Scientists are ready to launch a spacecraft that will smash into a big asteroid to make it change its course away from Earth. Here are the details:
NASA reports that it’s ready to launch the first part of its planetary defense strategy on November 24, when it plans to launch the DART spacecraft.
The spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Once it gets into space, it will head for a pair of asteroids called the Didymos binary.
The spacecraft is expected to be in position to approach and smash into the smallest of the pair of asteroids by October 2, in 2022.
DART will impact the 160-meter-wide rock at around 21,700 kilometers per hour, nudging it very slightly, but enough to change its orbit slightly.
NASA will then measure the change in orbit and use it as very important data for future missions designed to protect Earth from large incoming meteors.
NASA previously announced on October 1 that the DART’s cube satellite was ready.
The miniaturized satellite will deploy 10 days before DART’s asteroid impact, providing essential footage of the collision and subsequent plume of materials.
NASA says DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique, which involves sending one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an asteroid in space to change its course and speed.
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