A NASA spacecraft set to deliberately crash into an asteroid is preparing to launch next month.
NASA’s Dart Mission will lift off on November 23 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California which aims to “test the ability to redirect an asteroid”, according to ANU astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker.
“This is kind of quite literally bringing the idea of Hollywood movies – Armageddon, Deep Impact – into real life, so if we have an asteroid headed for the Earth, what could we do to deflect it,” he told Sky News Australia.
“Well, the idea is if you give something a nudge far away enough that it will sail past the Earth and we’ll be saved.”
Dr Tucker said Dart will go to a binary asteroid and will reach it in September next year, at which point it will shoot and crash into it.
He said the reason these asteroids were chosen were due to their proximity to Earth and because it is in a binary system, allowing scientists to monitor the difference between the impacted and unimpacted asteroids.
Dr Tucker said the asteroids posed no threat to Earth and the mission was meant purely to test the deflection system.