VIDEOThe US space agency NASA has launched a probe that is intended to hit an asteroid and push it out of orbit. The new mission aims to answer the question of whether it is possible to avert an impending catastrophe if a space rock ever comes straight for Earth.
The spacecraft DART, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, was launched at 07:21 (Dutch time) from space base Vandenberg in the US state of California. The probe was taken by a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX, the space company of Elon Musk.
DART goes to two rocks orbiting the sun right next to each other. One is Didymos, a rock with a diameter of 780 meters, the other is his 160 meter large moon Dimorphos. DART should hit Dimorphos in October next year. At impact, the probe is traveling at a speed of approximately 6 kilometers per second. It then remains to be seen whether Dimorphos is knocked out of his orbit around Didymos a little bit as a result. Nothing like this has ever been attempted.
The test is not a threat to Earth. “The system is a perfect place to test whether it is possible to change the course of an asteroid by deliberately hitting a spacecraft at it,” NASA said.
For the time being, there is no threat to the earth at all, emphasizes the space agency. Billions of asteroids and comets revolve around the sun. Several tens of thousands of them could one day pose a threat to Earth, but they won’t come anywhere near us for at least the next 100 years.
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