NASA Prepares to Launch Asteroid Deflection Test

NASA Prepares to Launch Asteroid Deflection Test

( – In February 2021, researchers discovered traces of asteroid dust in the geologic layer associated with dinosaurs’ extinction. That led credibility to the theory that an extraterrestrial event ended the giant reptiles’ 140-million-year reign. Meanwhile, a group of scientists working for NASA has been working on an asteroid defense system in hopes of saving the planet from a similar extinction-level event.

On Monday, October 4, NASA posted a notice inviting media members to document the launch of a Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Otherwise known as DART, the system uses spacecraft designed to deliberately crash into incoming asteroids and deflect them away from the earth’s path.

NASA officials scheduled the launch to take place from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 10:20 p.m. on November 23 (1:20 a.m. on the 24th for people on the East Coast). The DART system will target a nearby asteroid called Didymos and its moonlet. Didymos spans roughly half a mile across, and its moonlet is nearly 17.5 yards wide.

NASA’s DART probe consists of the main spacecraft, antennas, and solar panels. It’ll impact the moonlet traveling at a rate of about 4 miles per second at a distance from earth of roughly 6.8 million miles.

The mission aims to determine how much the DART probe’s impact will alter the moonlet’s velocity in space. Researchers believe it will nudge the moonlet enough for telescopes on earth to measure it. In addition, a smaller Italian spacecraft will accompany the probe and capture images of the impact and transmit them to earth.

Earthlings can watch live coverage of the launch on NASA’s website and the NASA app.

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