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In an effort to save Earth, NASA to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid on monday

US space agency says goal is to prevent Earth from one day being destroyed by a cosmic collision

In a historic mission to save the Earth, NASA will purposefully crash a spacecraft into an asteroid on Monday at 7:14 p.m. EST (12:14 GMT). The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) project will deliberately crash a space probe to test the hypothesis that one day an asteroid may divert enough space rock to avert a catastrophic collision that would otherwise destroy the earth.

In an interview, astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons, a member of the NASA Dart study team, described the phenomenon as “a very intricate game of cosmic billiards.” What we want to do is move the asteroid using as much DART energy as we can.

In November of last year, the DART mission was launched from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base. In deep space, 6.5 million miles (10.5 million kilometers) from Earth, the mission controllers will relinquish control of the spaceship on Monday. This never-before-seen cosmic collision will be captured by specialized cameras from a space mission.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated in a statement that DART “is transforming science fiction into scientific reality and is a monument to NASA’s proactivity and creativity for the benefit of mankind.” If an asteroid ever is detected that is traveling toward Earth, “this test will help prove out one plausible strategy to defend our planet from one.”

NASA DART Mission
This illustration depicts NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft prior to impact at the Didymos binary asteroid system. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA’s ultimate objective is to determine if it is possible to manually divert an asteroid away from the earth in the event that scientists are able to detect it long enough in advance.

According to Bruce Betts, head scientist of the Planetary Society, “what makes this natural calamity unusual is because if we do our research, we can really avert it.” “That’s a tremendous difference compared to many past major natural catastrophes,” the speaker said.

At a breakneck speed of 15,000 miles per hour, the DART spacecraft will pursue the massive space rock known as Dimorphos, which has a diameter of 525 feet (160 meters) (24,140 km per hour). According to NASA, the aim is not to completely destroy the asteroid but rather to determine if the crash would change its orbit.

No known asteroid bigger than 450 feet (137 meters) wide has a serious probability of striking the earth in the next 100 years, according to the US space agency.

Therefore, scientists will still be able to glean important data from the DART experiment that might one day be used to save the planet, even if the mission fails.

At a press briefing, Andrea Riley of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said, “If it misses, it still delivers a lot of data.” “Due to this, we test. Instead of waiting until there is a real need, we want to act immediately.”

Source: AA

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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