Nasa to crash spacecraft into asteroid in planetary protection take a look at

Nasa to crash spacecraft into asteroid in planetary protection take a look at

A multimillion-dollar spacecraft will collide head-on with an asteroid the scale of a soccer stadium in an unprecedented full-scale planetary protection take a look at by the US house company Nasa on Monday night.

The 570kg (1257lb) spacecraft named Dart – brief for Double Asteroid Redirection Check – was set to crash at excessive velocity into the asteroid Dimorphos and self-destruct about 7pm ET.

The collision between the asteroid and the spaceship – which is roughly the scale of a merchandising machine with two rectangular photo voltaic arrays – is meant to unfold about 6.8m miles (11m km) from Earth.

The take a look at goals to find out if deliberately crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an efficient option to change its course and avert a doomsday state of affairs for Earth. A comparatively comparable technique involving nuclear missiles relatively than an unmanned spacecraft failed throughout a key level within the plot of Morgan Freeman’s fictional 1998 planetary catastrophe movie Deep Affect.

Dart’s deliberate self-destruction poses no threats to humanity, Nasa spokesperson Glen Nagle mentioned.

Nagle mentioned Monday’s take a look at was the primary of a sequence of “planetary safety missions”.

“We need to have a greater probability than the dinosaurs had 65m years in the past,” Nagle mentioned, referring to the speculation that the prehistoric reptiles which as soon as dominated Earth went intuition when an asteroid struck the planet.

Nagle added: “All they might do is lookup and go, ‘Oh asteroid.’”

Whereas no recognized asteroid bigger than 459ft (140 meters) in dimension has a major probability of hitting Earth for the subsequent century, it’s estimated that solely 40% of these asteroids have been recognized thus far.

Cameras and telescopes will watch the crash, however it can take days and even weeks to seek out out if it truly altered the asteroid’s orbit.

The $325m planetary protection take a look at culminating Monday started with Dart’s launch final fall.

Reuters and the Related Press contributed reporting.

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