NASA has announced more details of an upcoming mission that will attempt to redirect an asteroid.
Known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the spacecraft will launch on November 23rd and head to the binary asteroid Didymos, which consists of one larger space rock measuring 2,600ft across and a smaller \’moonlet\’ which measures around 525ft across.
Once there, the probe will smash headlong into the smaller of the two rocks at 15,000mph.
The mission is designed to test out what is known as the kinetic impactor technique – an asteroid defense strategy that works by redirecting an incoming space rock so that it misses the Earth.
“It will confirm for us what the viability of the kinetic impactor technique is for diverting an asteroid\’s orbit and determine that it remains a viable option, at least for smaller-sized asteroids, which are the most frequent impact hazard,” NASA\’s Lindley Johnson told Space.com.
Europe, meanwhile, was to launch AIM ( Asteroid Impact Mission ), a probe that would travel to the scene of the experiment where it could collect data about the impact as it happens, however this has since been replaced with a less ambitious spacecraft known as Hera.
Hera will arrive several years after the collision has happened and will conduct a full analysis of the impact crater while also trialing a number of novel new technologies such as autonomous navigation.
The data it collects could one day help to – quite literally – save the world.