NASA Spacecraft Set to Hit an Asteroid Tonight as a Planetary Defense Test | Watch Live


NASA spacecraft is set to hit an asteroid tonight in a historic attempt to test human ability to defend the earth from potential future collisions with asteroids.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was launched from California, USA, last year November to hit the asteroid Dimorphos. 

NASA Spacecraft Set to Hit an Asteroid Tonight as a Planetary Defense Test

The asteroid is approximately 170m in diameter. It is about 11 million kilometers from the earth and orbits a larger asteroid, Didymos.

The DART spacecraft is set to reach the asteroid on Monday. The aim is to alter the trajectory of the asteroid thereby changing its course or direction.

The spacecraft is fast approaching the target at the speed of 14,000 miles per hour (22km/h). It is expected to reach the asteroid by 23:14 GMT (7:14 pm ET).

A high revolution camera will send back images of the spacecraft collision and the scenes of its approaching the asteroid. The impact will be broadcasted live on NASA TV, hours before the impact. Although the spacecraft has been controlled by NASA flight directors, it is expected to take on its autonomous navigation system at the final moment of its Collison.

The NASA DART team's objective is to shorten the orbital track of the asteroid by 10 minutes. Then another telescope made by an Italian Space Agency and employed by NASA for the DART Mission, will be used to ascertain if the mission has been accomplished.

NASA states that even if the orbital track is changed by 73 seconds, it is enough to prove human near readiness for planetary defense through aircraft collision.

In a press statement as reported by Al Jazeera, the mission coordinator lead, Nancy Chabot, states, "This is a challenging test, and this is why we're taking these first steps now to develop this technology before we need it".

DART mission is the first time humans ever attempt to hit an asteroid with a spacecraft. Although the asteroid, Dimorphos, is not heading close to the earth, successfully changing its trajectory would be a historic accomplishment for mankind and proves humans' readiness to divert incoming asteroids to save the earth from a possible doomsday.

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