/ 24 November 2021

Intercepting an asteroid

Image source: NASA
Image source: NASA

That’s what space agency NASA is attempting to do as part of its maiden Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) mission. But don’t worry, it’s not on track to hit Earth… The mission will test technology that could help change the course of asteroids that pose a threat in the future. Asteroids – space rocks that orbit the sun – rarely endanger Earth, but experts say those with a diameter of 300m and larger could cause continent-wide destruction. Those bigger than 1km could have a global impact. So to ensure we don’t go the way of the dinosaurs, NASA will launch a rocket carrying the Dart spacecraft this afternoon. It will then crash into a 163m-wide asteroid called Dimorphos next year to see whether it can throw it off course by a matter of millimetres. No need to cue up the music yet…

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