NASA Is About to Test Its First Asteroid Deflection Probe in Space

Just a few weeks and NASA would have made its first full-scale test to defend the planet from deadly asteroids. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART is a spacecraft that was launched to crash purposely into an asteroid and gather data from the event.

NASA Will Monitor DART’s Asteroid Impact and Analyze Everything

NASA Is About to Test Its First Asteroid Deflection Probe In Space

Because this is a test and NASA is not sure how things will go, it will use a very powerful telescope to analyze the impact with the 525-foot-wide asteroid called Dimorphos. The $330 million spacecraft is meant to approach and strike Dimorphos and its companion Didymos. That’s right — it will try to change the trajectory of not one but two asteroids at the same time. Naturally, the asteroids that were chosen are not set to hit Earth, but scientists say that they are large enough that if they were to hit the planet, they would cause significant damage.

DART Will Test Humanity’s Ability to Defend Itself From an Asteroid

NASA’s first-ever Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson, stated that humans shouldn’t have to be in a situation where an asteroid was headed toward Earth, and they had to test its capability to deflect it. According to him, the idea behind DART was to know in advance how a spacecraft would work in such a situation and what the reaction of the asteroid to the impact would be.

Astronomer Nick Moskovitz is a co-lead of the observation campaign and said in a statement that now was the perfect time to execute a test like this. According to him, the before-and-after nature of the experiment required significant knowledge of the asteroid system before doing anything to it. So, they wanted to gather enough data before DART hit to be certain that any change to the asteroid’s behavior was due to its collision with it.

Apparently, DART wasn’t intended to destroy Dimorphos but rather give it a little nudge in a different direction and affect its orbit around Didymos by as little as 1%. This minor change should be enough to make a big difference in the asteroid’s position and trajectory and would be a solution to avoiding a collision.