NASA Spacecraft Will Crash Into An Asteroid Today To Protect Earth
A NASA spacecraft will deliberately slam into an asteroid today at 7:14 p.m. ET after launching 10 months ago as part of a planetary protection program.
The DART mission, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, will attempt to affect the motion of an asteroid in space. A live stream of images captured by the spacecraft will be available on NASA’s website beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
The mission is heading for Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Didymos.
According to NASA officials, “the asteroid system poses no threat to Earth, making it a perfect target to test out a kinetic impact – which may be needed if an asteroid is ever on track to hit Earth.”
At the time of impact, Didymos and Dimorphos will be relatively close to Earth – within 6.8 million miles.
The spacecraft will accelerate at about 21,600 kilometers per hour when it collides with the space rock.
This collision will be recorded by LICIACube, or Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids, a companion cube satellite provided by the Italian Space Agency.
The event will be the agency’s first full-scale demonstration of deflection technology that can protect the planet.
Watch the animation below: