NASA will deliberately crash a spacecraft into an asteroid on Monday, September 26, in Earth’s first defense test.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, aims to see if it can use a space probe to deflect an asteroid from crashing into Earth, potentially saving our planet from a catastrophic impact.
“We are moving an asteroid. We are changing the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Humanity has never done that before,” said Tom Statler, NASA program scientist for the DART mission.
The DART probe is roughly the size of a school bus. On September 26, 7:14 PM ET, it is expected to hit Dimorphos, a giant space rock measuring 525 ft./160 m in diameter at a blistering speed of 15,000 mi per hour or 24,140 km per hour.
The goal, NASA says, is not to destroy the asteroid, but to alter its orbit. Dimorphos is at no risk of colliding with Earth, before or after the test. It was chosen for the test because its size is comparable to other asteroids that pose a threat to our planet.
Apart from the test, NASA’s space probe will also gather data on the asteroid before it crashes.