NASA’s DART to ‘crash into asteroid’


It’s not often you read about an ‘intentional crash’ in space but tonight NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will impact Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet of Didymos.

While it poses no threat to Earth, the DART mission will demonstrate that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a kinetic impact on a relatively small target asteroid, and that this is a viable technique to deflect a genuinely dangerous asteroid, if one was discovered.

Its target is the binary, near-Earth asteroid system Didymos, composed of the roughly 780m (2,560-foot) -diameter Didymos and the smaller, approximately 160m (530-foot)-size Dimorphos, which orbits Didymos.

DART will impact Dimorphos to change its orbit within the binary system, impacting at 14,000 miles an hour, and the DART Investigation Team will compare the results of its kinetic impact with Dimorphos to highly detailed computer simulations of kinetic impacts on asteroids. The impact is timed for 23:14 GMT, Monday (00:14 BST, Tuesday). Click here to watch the DART live stream.

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