This illustration is of the DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube prior to impact at the Didymos binary system. (NASA/Johns Hopkins, APL/Steve Gribben)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is set to deliberately slam a spacecraft into a small asteroid on Monday evening in an effort to divert it, and the coverage of the event will be streamed live. The DART mission, which stands for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is key to the space agency’s goal of developing technology that could one day prevent a killer asteroid from striking Earth."This is stuff of science-fiction books and really corny episodes of ‘Star Trek’ from when I was a kid, and now it’s real," NASA program scientist Tom Statler said last week.Here’s what you need to know about the collision:The DART mission is humanity's first-ever attempt to change the motion of an asteroid in space by intentionally crashing a spacecraft into it. The $325 million planetary defense test began with DART’s launch last fall. SpaceX provided a ride into space for NASA's DART mission, the first attempt to test out an Earth protection plan from asteroids by crashing a spacecraft into one.The target is the asteroid Didymos and its secondary body — or "moonlet" — known as Dimorphos.
While the Didymos primary body is about a half-mile across, Dimorphos is about 520 feet in size, "which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose the most likely significant threat to Earth," the space agency states on its website.NASA says the two asteroids are not a threat to Earth, but because they do pass close to the planet, Didymos and its small moonlet were chosen for the mission. On Monday evening, DART is set to slam Dimorphos head-on at 14,000 mph. The
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