(WTVO) — A planetary defense test taking place Monday may provide the Earth with protection from asteroids.
A spacecraft, nicknamed “DART,” will crash into an asteroid way out in space to determine whether it can change the big rock’s course. It is basically target practice on a celestial body far, far away.
If human and technological intervention can change the course of something speeding towards Earth, even by a degree or two, the whole planet could avoid disaster. NASA Chief Scientist Kate Calvin spoke about the test, and she said that it is a perfectly chosen target.
“So, it’s far enough away that it’s not a threat to Earth, but it’s close enough to observe it from Earth, and it is called a bio-system, so it’s actually two asteroids, one little one orbiting a larger one, and we’re going to impact the little one and try to change it’s orbit around the larger asteroid,” Calvin said. “So, we’re continually looking up and looking for asteroids and comets, finding and monitoring and tracking them, and we also look into technologies to change their orbit if we ever encounter one that is a threat to Earth, and DART is a part of that test.”
The DART spacecraft launched 10 months ago. The crash is scheduled to happen at 6:14 p.m. CT. Live stream images captured by the spacecraft can be viewed on NASA’s website.