Historic! NASA DART mission to deflect giant 560-foot asteroid today
Apocalyptic movies like Armageddon, Deep Impact and even Armageddon have explored the possibility of total annihilation when an asteroid threatns to strike Earth. These “What Ifs” of world destruction have always captured the minds of sci-fi geeks. But what if an asteroid actually comes towards Earth? Would our planet survive or would there be total annihilation? It seems NASA scientists have similar queries as the space agency has got its test ready to conduct its first ever planetary defense test and it is all happening today.
NASA has had a plan in the works for a long time to deflect a giant asteroid off its course by smashing an spacecraft into it. It is a $324 million mission by NASA called the Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART. The aim of the mission is to smash a spacecraft into the Dimorphos asteroid to deflect it away from its path. While this asteroid in no way threatens Earth, the NASA asteroid mission is to carry out an experiment to gain greater knowledge as to what happens when a craft is crashed against a space rock. This knowledge will be used if an actual asteroid threatens to crash into the Earth.
The DART mission has already sent the main spacecraft to space in November, 2021. It includes a satellite made by the Italian Space Agency. Another spacecraft is set to measure the impact. The DART spacecraft is set to collide with its target asteroid on September 26. The target asteroid is Dimorphos which is nearly 560 feet in width. The asteroid orbits a parent asteroid which is 5 times its size.
After the collision, the European Space Agency's Hera spacecraft will fly to the asteroid to survey the aftermath of impact and gather information such as the size of impact crater, the mass of the asteroid and its make-up and internal structure.
DART Mission's first planetary defense test is set to take place today, August 26 at 7:14 p.m. EDT or 4:44 a.m. IST when the spacecraft will impact the target asteroid. The live coverage of the event will begin at 6:00 p.m. EDT or 3:30 a.m. IST.