A NASA spacecraft aimed at destroying asteroids that threaten Earth (video)

 Last Thursday, the US space agency displayed the "DART" spacecraft, which will carry out the first planetary defense mission for NASA.

NASA plans to launch DART later this month on a mission to smash into an asteroid and determine if the spacecraft's impact will alter its course.

The US space agency considers any object close to Earth a "potential hazard" if it is within 0.05 astronomical units and is more than 460 feet in diameter.

A report stated that "DART" will be launched on November 24, and it will target the asteroid "Didymos" and its moon "Demorphos".

"This is a test," Lindley Johnson, a planetary defense officer, told reporters. "We don't want to be in a situation where an asteroid is heading toward Earth, and then we have to test that kind of ability."

"We want to know how the spacecraft operates and how it will react," he added.

Dart means "little arrow," and it takes off from California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 22:20 local time on January 23.

The goal is actually twofold, as it is first a large asteroid named Didymos, with a diameter of 780 meters, twice the height of the Eiffel Tower.

In orbit around it is Demorphos, which is 160 meters in diameter, taller than the Statue of Liberty.

With this moon, the spacecraft will hit at a speed of 24,000 kilometers per hour, knowing that it is about 100 times smaller than it. The collision will result in the volatilization of tons of material.

"This collision will not destroy the asteroid, but rather deal it a small blow," explained Nancy Chabot, of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, which is running the mission in partnership with "NASA."

This will reduce the orbit of the small asteroid around the large asteroid by "about 1 percent" only, she explained.

Andy Cheng of Johns Hopkins University said that this test will allow an "idea of ​​how much force it would take to deviate an asteroid from its path so that it does not hit the Earth", which may be useful "in the event that an asteroid is one day detected on a collision course with the Earth."

Zheng explained that a slight change will also occur in the orbit around the sun of the large asteroid Didymos, due to the gravitational relationship of its moon. But he noted that this change is "too small to measure. So it's a very safe experiment."

Ten days before the impact, the lead craft will launch a small satellite, which will use its own propulsion system to slightly deflect its own trajectory.

Three minutes after the impact, the satellite will fly over Demorphos to observe the impact of the impact, and possibly the crater it may have created on the asteroid's surface.

The total cost of this operation is $330 million.

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