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NASA sends spacecraft to smash into asteroid, hoping to forestall future ‘Armageddon’ – Nationwide | Globalnews.ca

NASA launched a spacecraft Tuesday night time on a mission to smash into an asteroid and check whether or not it could be doable to knock a rushing area rock astray if one had been to threaten Earth.

The DART spacecraft, quick for Double Asteroid Redirection Check, lifted off from Vandenberg Area Pressure Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a $330 million challenge with echoes of the Bruce Willis film “Armageddon.”

If all goes effectively, in September 2022 it should slam head-on into Dimorphos, an asteroid 525 ft (160 meters) throughout, at 15,000 mph (24,139 kph).

“This isn’t going to destroy the asteroid. It’s just going to give it a small nudge,” mentioned mission official Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins Utilized Physics Laboratory, which is managing the challenge.

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Dimorphos orbits a a lot bigger asteroid referred to as Didymos. The pair aren’t any hazard to Earth however supply scientists a strategy to measure the effectiveness of the collision.

Dimorphos completes one orbit of Didymos each 11 hours, 55 minutes. DART’s objective is a crash that may sluggish Dimorphos down and trigger it to fall nearer towards the larger asteroid, shaving 10 minutes off its orbit.

The change within the orbital interval shall be measured by telescopes on Earth. The minimal change for the mission to be thought of successful is 73 seconds.

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The DART approach might show helpful for altering the course of an asteroid years or a long time earlier than it bears down on Earth with the potential for disaster.

A small nudge “would add up to a big change in its future position, and then the asteroid and the Earth wouldn’t be on a collision course,” Chabot mentioned.

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Scientists continually seek for asteroids and plot their programs to find out whether or not they might hit the planet.

“Although there isn’t a currently known asteroid that’s on an impact course with the Earth, we do know that there is a large population of near-Earth asteroids out there,” mentioned Lindley Johnson, planetary protection officer at NASA. “The key to planetary defense is finding them well before they are an impact threat.”

Learn extra:
CN Tower-sized asteroid to cross Earth in quickest flyby of 2021

DART will take 10 months to achieve the asteroid pair. The collision will happen about 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth.

Ten days beforehand, DART will launch a tiny statement spacecraft equipped by the Italian area company that may comply with it.

DART will stream video till it’s destroyed on impression. Three minutes later, the trailing craft will make photos of the impression website and materials that’s ejected.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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