NASA’s planetary defense mission will test asteroid deflection, but how realistic is it?

On Sept. 26, NASA will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to disrupt its path. The space rock isn’t predicted to collide with Earth, nor is any other known asteroid or large object. The impact is a test — the crux of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. Though there is no true impending collision, the DART mission closely mimics what NASA scientists would do if an asteroid were headed toward Earth. The mission will also give scientists valuable data that will better prepare them to redirect a large asteroid or comet if one were to head toward us.  

“It is exactly the kind of mission that we would use to actually deflect an asteroid,” Seth Jacobson, an assistant professor of planetary sciences at Michigan State University and a co-investigator on the mission, told Space.com.



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