NASA is preparing for a big test that could protect the planet from complete and utter catastrophe in the coming centuries.
NASA has just announced plans for something that you might think is absolutely crazy. The space agency says they are going to try to redirect the course of a small asteroid that is headed for Earth as part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which could be the precursor to a system that could stop potentially catastrophic asteroids from hitting Earth in the future.
While asteroids hit the Earth every day, most are small enough to complete dissolve in the atmosphere from the intense heat. But just about every mass extinction event in Earth’s history has been caused by a huge asteroid, so it’s only a matter of time before one comes along that could wipe out humans.
The DART project is a jointe ffort between NASA and the Joint Hopkins Applies Physics Laboratory in Maryland. DART would be the first NASA mission to demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique, which involves striking an asteroid to cause its orbit to shift off course.
“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement. “This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.”