watch NASA test its planetary defense system

By Michael Grothaus 2 moment Read

We’ve viewed the scenario played out in movies many times: an asteroid is heading immediately toward the earth and it’s up to a ragtag crew of heroes to group up with NASA to help you save the planet. But ignore Hollywood for a moment – right now things get very authentic. NASA will exam its asteroid planetary protection procedure, identified as DART, for the initial time. Here’s what to know about it and how you can look at it.

  • What is DART? DART is the title NASA has presented to the first take a look at of its asteroid planetary defense program. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Check
  • How does DART perform? Dart is a spacecraft that NASA will intentionally slam into an asteroid. The spacecraft weighs 1,340 lbs. and is traveling at approximately 14,000 mph. The place company desires to see if the resulting kinetic power from the crash can change the asteroid’s trajectory just a very little bit. 
  • But why only improve an incoming asteroid’s trajectory a tiny? Never we want to transform it a lot? The purpose is to adjust an incoming asteroid’s trajectory by a great deal, in the end. But if you can bump an asteroid which is significantly out early plenty of, even a minute transform in its trajectory at influence will finally mature into a wide adjust as the asteroid continues its journey, therefore lacking earth.
  • Just can’t we just use nukes on an asteroid? We could, but because of how physics operates, we almost certainly never require these types of electricity to end an incoming asteroid. As NASA is testing right now, you just need to have a little something that could slam into an asteroid far enough out to bump it marginally off training course, so by the time it would get to earth, its route has been adjusted ample that it does not come close to it.
  • What asteroid is being strike now? It’s truly a single of a pair that will make up a double asteroid. The big a person is identified as Didymos, which is 2,560 ft in diameter. Didymos has a more compact asteroid orbiting it called Dimorphos, which is 530 ft in diameter. DART will slam into Dimorphos, and NASA will see if the impact changes Dimorphos’s orbit at all. If it does, it’s a fantastic indication this variety of planetary protection technique can perform.
  • Is Didymos or Dimorphos a risk to earth? No, not at all. It’s just a very good asteroid pair to take a look at DART on.
  • How can I observe the DART check? NASA’s coverage of the DART mission will start off at 6 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on its formal YouTube live stream, embedded below. The real DART effects is approximated to transpire at 7:14 p.m. ET/ 10:14 p.m. PT.

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