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Sep 22, 2022

Countdown to DART Impact

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

In a first-of-its-kind test for planetary defense, NASA’s DART spacecraft is scheduled next week to crash into an asteroid and alter the celestial body’s course.

If all goes according to plan, on September 26th at 7:14 pm Eastern Daylight Time, NASA’s DART spacecraft will meet a fiery end. DART, whose name stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is poised to intentionally crash into an asteroid that, at the time of impact, will be 11 million km from Earth. The goal of the mission is to alter the speed and trajectory of the impacted space boulder. The technology developed for the mission could one day aid in shifting the orbit of an asteroid that—unlike this one—is on a collision course with Earth.

“Our DART spacecraft is going to impact an asteroid in humanity’s first attempt to change the motion of a natural celestial body,” said Tom Statler, a scientist in NASA’s planetary defense team, in a recent press conference about the mission. “It will be a truly historic moment for the entire world.”

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