NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will be the first mission to smash into an asteroid called Dimorphos, which poses no threat to Earth, to test a technology designed to protect Earth from potential hazards from asteroids or comets in the future.
Dimorphos, a glob of space rock far from Earth that no one knows what it will look like, will be smashed with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which will move at more than 14,000 miles per hour when it hits the asteroid. This must be one of the most metallurgical experiments of all time to demonstrate how a spacecraft can navigate to and cross with an intended asteroid and purposefully cross paths with it to change the asteroid’s motion.
According to NASA, DART will influence Dimorphos to change its orbit within the Didymos binary system, which consists of the 780-meter-diameter Didymos and the smaller 160-meter diameter Dimorphos orbiting Didymos, and the DART Investigation Team will compare the results of DART’s kinetic impact with the asteroids to fully detailed computer simulations of kinetic impacts on asteroids.
The space agency added that this will assess the effectiveness of this mitigation approach and how best to apply it to future planetary defense scenarios, as well as how accurate the computer simulations are and how well they reflect the behavior of a real asteroid.
DART will also provide critical data to better prepare for the discovery of an asteroid that, if discovered, could pose an impact hazard to Earth.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheVerge.