NASA Launches Its First-Ever 'Planetary Defence' Mission

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NASA Launches Its First-Ever 'Planetary Defence' Mission

On Tuesday, NASA launched its firts-ever 'planetary defence' mission, deflecting an asteroid 6.8 million miles away from Earth. A box-shaped probe aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from California's Vanderberg Space Force.


DART is directed towards a small asteroid called Dimorphos, which orbits its larger counterpart, Didymos.


The aim of the demonstration is to offer information about possible future missions that could help avoid a deadly asteroid impact on Earth. Post impact observations are provided using optical telescopes and planetary radars which measure Dimorphos' changes in orbit around Didymos

According to details provided by NASA, the DART mission has cost $330 million.



NASA's Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson, said:


"Although there isn't a currently known asteroid that's on an impact course with the Earth, we do know that there is a large population of near-Earth asteroids out there. The key to planetary defence is finding them well before they are an impact threat. We don't want to be in a situation where an asteroid is headed towards Earth and then have to test this capability."


Although DART will not destroy the asteroid, NASA aims to 'cause the biggest deflection' possible.


Nancy Chabot of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said:


"It's just going to give it a small nudge,' Chabot said. 'It's going to deflect its path around the larger asteroid. It's only going to be a change of about 1 per cent in that orbital period, so what was 11 hours and 55 minutes before might be like 11 hours and 45 minutes."


The composition of Dimorphos will also determine the amount of deflection. But scientists do not know yet how dense the asteroid is.


Chabot says that Dimorphos is about 4.5 billion years old and is an example of the most common type of asteroid known in space. She stated:


"It's like ordinary chondrite meteorites. It's a fine grain mixture of rock and metal together."


[Based on reporting by: The Daily Mail]


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Thinking Humanity: NASA Launches Its First-Ever 'Planetary Defence' Mission
NASA Launches Its First-Ever 'Planetary Defence' Mission
On Tuesday, NASA launched its firts-ever 'planetary defence' mission, deflecting an asteroid 6.8 million miles away from Earth. A box-shaped probe abo
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