NASA to crash a space probe into an asteroid

There are many rocky objects in our solar system, sometimes they strike the earth. Some 66 million years ago, a six-mile-wide asteroid hit the earth that triggered a mass extinction of the dinosaurs. The DART mission will try to alter a harmless asteroid’s orbit, a technology that could one day defend Earth from armageddon.

Now for the first time in the history of this planet, Earth is going to strike back.

At 10:40 p.m. Pacific Time on November 23, a NASA mission called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, will begin it’s nearly a year-long voyage around the sun. If all goes well, DART’s journey will end on the evening of September 26, 2022, when the golf cart-size spacecraft will intentionally strike a little, unsuspecting asteroid called Dimorphos. Dimorphos is a harmless space rock, a 525-foot-wide “moonlet” that orbits a bigger asteroid called Didymos every 11 hours and 55 minutes. The name Dimorphos, Greek for “having two forms,” was chosen because the asteroid will have one form before DART and one form after.

Asteroids large enough can cause catastrophic damage if it hits the Earth. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will attempt to slightly change the trajectory of the moonlet, hopefully proving our ability to deflect a potentially harmful impact in the coming future.

DART spacecraft traveling with a speed of more than 4.1 miles per second and weighing 1,100 pounds, its impact with Dimorphos is expected to slow the speed of the moonlet by less than 0.2 inches per second, which is enough to alter the rotation around Didymos by up to 10 minutes.