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NASA to launch DART mission as a test of ‘planetary defense’

On Thursday, during a press conference, NASA disclosed details about the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which would cost $330 million. Next year, NASA wants to crash the spaceship with an asteroid, flying at 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kilometers per hour) as a ‘ planetary defense test.’

The idea to defend the planet from any threat across the universe is to detect the threat before imposing an impact hazard, according to NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson. He further went on to say that they don’t want to be in a situation where an asteroid is moving towards Earth, and this test is essential as it will lead to knowing where they stand if the situation comes. There are over 27,000 near-Earth asteroids recorded, but none of them is a threat to Earth as of now, according to Johnson.


From California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, the DART satellite will be launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 10:20 PM pacific time on 23 November. If the launch is successful at or near the time, the asteroid is most probably likely to hit Earth between 26 September and 1 October 2022, at 6.8 million miles of distance.

The two asteroids, Dimorphos which in Greek means “two forms,” is 525 feet in diameter and circles a giant asteroid Didymos, which in Greek means “twin.” These two asteroids are no threat to Earth; however, Johnson believes they are both excellent candidates for the test to observe them by ground-based telescopes.


An Italian Space Agency’s spacecraft equipped with tiny camera will also help to acquire images, which will be launched ten days before the DART project. Every 11 hours and 55 minutes, the asteroid Dimorphos completes one orbit around the Didymos.

According to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Nancy Chabot, who planned the DART mission, the DART probe at impact will weigh 1,210 pounds and will not kill the asteroid. Meanwhile, the test is just intended to assist the scientists in acquiring more profound knowledge of how much momentum is required to deflect an asteroid if one day this situation comes.