NASA probe will soon collide with a 160-meter asteroid

As part of the DART mission, NASA plans to deorbit the asteroid with a $330 million space probe. The experiment will take place on the night of September 27, and its goal is to find out if there is a way in the arsenal of mankind to protect the Earth from the fall of large space objects.

Visualization: ESA

On Day X, the spacecraft will approach Dimorph, a satellite of the asteroid Didyma, about 160 meters in diameter, to collide with it and try to change its trajectory. Regardless of the results of the experiment, the mission will help scientists answer the question of how to act in case of a real danger to the Earth. So far, nothing of the kind threatens our planet.

Ten days before impact with the asteroid, the probe will launch a small observation satellite, LUCIACube, which will broadcast the experiment live. The impact of DART and Dimorph will occur 11 million km from Earth. To change the asteroid’s course, the spacecraft would travel at 24,000 km/h.

The DART mission was launched last November specifically for this experiment. Scientists have chosen Dimorph as a target for a reason: the size of the satellite is large enough to cause great damage if a similar object falls to Earth.

In 2024, ESA astronomers plan to send the Hera robot to Dimorph, which will study in detail the traces of a collision with a space probe.

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