NASA on Thursday introduced the space agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a spacecraft they plan to launch later this month on a mission to crash into an asteroid.
The goal? To determine whether the impact of the spacecraft will change the asteroid’s course.
DART, which launches on November 24, will target a double asteroid Didymos and its moon Dimorphos. Neither asteroid poses a threat to the Earth, the DART team said.
“This is a test. 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 by the asteroid to the impact before we ever get in a situation like that,” Johndon, Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson told reporters.
DART, which will launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force base, will reach Dimorphos and Didymos in the fall of 2022.