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NASA’s (DART) Mission Explained: The First On-Purpose Planetary Defence

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This mission is an experiment and not a common ditch attempt that occurred in the past to save the earth from a catastrophe. The mission is called the double asteroid redirection Test (DART) and will be the first attempt to divert hypothetical harmful asteroids from our planet earth.

What is a Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)?  

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test uses a technique for asteroid deflection, mitigating the impact threat of an asteroid colliding with the earth in the future. It would merely change the motion of the asteroid without destroying it. Asteroids are larger than 140 meters in size and can hit earth in the next century. This test, the first of its kind from NASA, will validate a method to save the earth from catastrophe.

How will the DART Mission Will Carry Out?

Last year, NASA launched this test and sent a spacecraft (SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket) to space to crash into a moonlet asteroid (Dimorphos) orbiting a larger asteroid (Didymos). After a long journey of one year now, the spacecraft is ready to crash into it on the 26th of September. The spacecraft has captured the images of the moonlet asteroid it will crash into; mentioned earlier, it’s a double-asteroid system as a smaller asteroid orbiting a larger companion asteroid.

What is the aim of the DART mission?

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test aims to deflect the asteroid’s orbit through a kinetic impact. It won’t be destroying the asteroids but give it a small nudge hitting it at 15000 mph. This kinetic impact collision will occur about 6.8 million miles from earth and will only change the orbit by 1%. This deflection is enough to divert an asteroid from the earth.

This mission, regardless of the consequences, will validate and allow scientists and astronomers to get important data on what would be the response if a high-impact asteroid is a collision threat to earth. Though, there are no threats in the present day. In November, a Planetary defense officer for NASA said: “ We don’t want to be in a situation where an asteroid is headed toward Earth and then have to be testing this kind of capability. We want to know about both how the spacecraft works and what the reaction will be … before we ever get in a situation like that”.  

What is the Cost of the DART mission?

According to Lindley Johnsons, the planetary officer at NASA, the total cost of this miraculous mission will be around $330 million. A report analyzing the mission’s cost mentioned that $308 million were spent on developing spacecraft. The $68.8 million was for the launch, and approximately $16.5 million is expected to be spent on the rest of the operations and data analysis of the mission.

Where Can We Watch DART?

It can be witnessed live on NASA’s website, and the space agency will also live stream the event on NASA TV. This event can also be viewed on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Muhammad Tufail Sheikh
Tufail Sheikh leads Techywired's coverage of computing and gaming niche. He has been writing about best gaming laptops and PCs which is his passion right from the start of his career. He is a gaming geek from the early childhood and you can always find him playing video games in his favorite couch.

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