NASA controllers are sending their $330 million robotic spacecraft, the Dart, hurtling toward the asteroids to learn how to divert them if any are discovered on their way to colliding with Earth.
The Dart mission, launched in November last year, is expected to hit its target early morning hours on Sept. 27. Scientists hope to better understand how similar impacts can be used to fend off Earth-bound asteroids and comets.
Astronomers think that we are unlikely to see similar cataclysmic impacts in real life anytime soon, but if we do, we need to be ready to take action. NASA’s Dart program is a first step in developing technology for asteroidal deflection.
A 20-meter rock burst through the atmosphere of the planet close to the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013, injuring over 1,500 people.
The Dart asteroid probe will be released ten days before it strikes its host asteroid, Dimorphos. It will be fitted with two cameras and given the names of Luke and Leia, and Earth-based telescopes will examine the asteroid.
For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:
- Nasa to crash $330m spacecraft into asteroid to see if impact can alter course The Guardian
- Terrifying 260-foot asteroid hurtling towards Earth tomorrow, NASA warns HT Tech
- NASA is firing a spacecraft at an asteroid and you can watch it live WOODTV.com
- First ever Earth-saving asteroid experiment from NASA happening this month MLive.com
- This frightening 150-foot wide asteroid just buzzed Earth; NASA says 4 other asteroids coming HT Tech