R&I – FS
NASA is about to launch an unprecedented mission to knock an asteroid slightly off course.
In the first real-world test of a technique that could someday be used to protect Earth from a threatening space rock, a spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Tuesday at 10:20 p.m. PST.
The golf-cart-size spacecraft will travel to an asteroid that’s more than 6 million miles away — and poses no danger to Earth — and ram into it. Scientists will then watch to see how the asteroid’s trajectory changes.
NASA has identified and tracked almost all of the nearby asteroids of a size that would cause world-altering damage if they ever struck Earth. For the foreseeable future, none that big are headed our way. But there are plenty of smaller asteroids, the size that could take out a city, that still haven’t been found and tracked.
It’s a space rock of that smaller size that the DART mission — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — will take head-on.
Article URL : https://www.npr.org/2021/11/22/1056995884/in-a-first-test-of-its-planetary-defense-efforts-nasas-going-to-shove-an-asteroi