NASA’s asteroid-smashing spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at its destination today at a speed faster than a bullet

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NASA's asteroid-smashing spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at its destination today at a speed faster than a bullet

On Monday, the operation to divert an asteroid heading for Earth to test a planetary defense system will be carried out. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), overseen by NASA’s Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, is nearing completion. Scientists sent a spacecraft, and it collided with the asteroid Dimorphous. On September 26, at precisely 7:14 pm EDT, the strike will begin (4.44 am IST on September 27). About 11 million kilometers from Earth, a cube-shaped “impactor” vehicle the size of a vending machine will crash into a football stadium-sized asteroid.
It should be highlighted that the asteroid does not represent a threat to our planet, and the mission’s results will not alter this. Instead, they will test our planet’s capacity of a spacecraft to change an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force, plowing into the object at high speed to nudge it astray just enough to keep our planet out of harm’s way.

People will be able to follow the activity, although a bit in reverse, thanks to the DART mission’s spacecraft camera.
At 6 pm EDT, NASA will start its coverage of the DART collision (3.30 am IST).

The NASA website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter account will all offer live coverage of the event.

This is the first effort by our scientists to alter the trajectory of an asteroid or any other celestial entity.

DART was launched by a SpaceX rocket in November 2021, and NASA flight directors have overseen most of its journey. In the last several hours of the trip, an autonomous onboard navigation system will take over.

As part of a binary pair with the same name—the Greek word for twin—the mission’s celestial target is an asteroid “moonlet” with a diameter of roughly 560 feet that circles a parent asteroid five times bigger and is known as Didymos.

Direct collision with Dimorphos at a speed of 24,000 kph is intended to cause it to change its orbital path to approach its more enormous partner asteroid.

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