WATCH LIVE: NASA DART spacecraft set to collide with asteroid – National

NASA’s deliberate collision with an asteroid is about to happen, and if all goes as planned, the impact will redirect the non-threatening space rock and alter its flight path.

The world’s first planetary defense mission will see the DART spacecraft, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, deflect an asteroid Monday evening at 6 p.m. ET.

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The DART lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last November as part of a $330 million project.

DART is essentially a test of the center’s ability to defend our planet against future asteroids and other Earth-bound debris. It will deliberately collide head-on at 24,139 kilometers per hour with Dimorphos, an asteroid 160 meters in diameter.

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NASA will host a live broadcast of the event starting tonight. Impact is expected to occur at 7:14 p.m. ET. A live briefing from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory will take place at the start of the livestream.

Global News will also have the livestream available, both on location (in this article, top) and on YouTube.

« For the first time ever, we will measurably alter the orbit of a celestial body in the universe, » said Robert Braun, Space Exploration Sector Leader of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. .

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It may sound like something pulled straight from the plot of a Hollywood apocalyptic blockbuster, and that’s exactly what scientists are trying to make sure never happens.

Dimorphos poses no threat to Earth, NASA says, but offers scientists a way to measure the effectiveness of the collision.

« It’s not going to destroy the asteroid. It’s just going to give it a little boost,” said mission leader Nancy Chabot of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which manages the project, at the DART launch last year.

Dimorphos is a moon that orbits an asteroid called Didymos. Dimmorphos completes an orbit of Didymos every 11 hours and 55 minutes. The DART’s objective is a crash that will slow Dimorphos down and bring it closer to the larger asteroid, reducing its orbit by 10 minutes.

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In the moments before impact, DART will be moving at almost six kilometers per second.

DART will play the video until it is destroyed on impact. Three minutes later, a towed device will take images of the impact site and the ejected material. The collision will occur about 11 million kilometers from Earth. The Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes will also observe the event, as well as NASA’s Lucy Mission.

“This test will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it to alter the motion of the asteroid in ways that can be measured using ground-based telescopes. DART will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that could pose a danger of impacting Earth, should one ever be discovered,” NASA explained in a press release.

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Scientists are constantly searching for asteroids and plotting their paths to determine if they might hit the planet.

NASA considers near-Earth objects to be comets or asteroids that are within 30 million miles of Earth. Detecting these threats is one of the main objectives of space organizations around the world.

« Although there is no currently known asteroid that is on an impact trajectory with Earth, we do know that there is a large population of near-Earth asteroids, » said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA last year. « The key to planetary defense is finding them long before they pose an impact threat. »

NASA says no asteroids are currently on a direct impact path with Earth, but more than 27,000 near-Earth asteroids exist in all shapes and sizes.

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