Nasa to crash spacecraft into asteroid in ‘Armageddon’ test of defences

US space agency says it will be testing the possibility of intercepting an asteroid by smashing into it at nearly 15,000 miles per hour

Nasa to crash spacecraft into asteroid in ‘Armageddon’ test of defences

NASA said that its mission to deflect an asteroid in deep space using a spacecraft is targeting a late November launch

Nasa said that its mission to deflect an asteroid in deep space using a spacecraft is targeting a late November launch CREDIT: Nasa
Nasa is planning to deliberately crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to test its ability to alter its trajectory and avoid a potentially deadly future collision with Earth.

The space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will lift off next month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, for a mission being likened to the plot of film Armageddon.

DART will be testing asteroid deflection capabilities by smashing into it at nearly 15,000 miles per hour in September 2022.

It is hoped the spacecraft it will change the speed of the asteroid, known as Didymoon, a fraction of a per cent, and subsequently alter its orbit.

Didymoon, of the type likely to threaten Earth, came relatively close to Earth in 2003, coming within 3.7 million miles.

Nasa considers any near-Earth object as “potentially hazardous” if it comes within 0.05 astronomical units (4.6 million miles) and measures more than 460 feet in diameter.

According to the US space agency, there are just over 25,000 NEOs, but many more are waiting to be discovered. Some are only discovered once they are near to Earth.

Didymoon is more likely to hit Earth, given there are more space rocks its size that Nasa and the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies have yet to observe.

“DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique, which involves sending one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an asteroid in space to change its motion,” Nasa said in a statement.

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