And here’s an explainer we published earlier about the Dart mission, which Nasa is running in association with scientists from Johns Hopkins university.
It’s important to point out that there is no current threat to Earth from an asteroid… this test mission is taking place to assess our readiness IF such a peril ever materialized.
But it’s a subject that’s been in the public eye recently, notably through last year’s Netflix comedy Don’t Look Up, in which Earth faces impending doom from a menacing asteroid and barely anybody seems to care or notice.
Good afternoon blog readers, space enthusiasts, and those who just want to know if humanity can be saved from the apocalypse of a giant asteroid slamming into Earth.
In about two hours from now, at 7.14pm ET, Nasa will take the first steps towards finding out. The space agency will intentionally crash a spacecraft the size of a small car into Dimorphos, the moon of the asteroid Didymos, orbiting about 6.8m miles away.
The aim of the Dart (double asteroid redirection test) mission is to see if the asteroid’s trajectory can be altered by the force of the impact, thereby suggesting humankind has the capability of at least attempting to avert such an Armageddon-style event.
The unprecedented “planetary defense test” is a venture several years and $325m in the making, and is the first of what Nasa intends to be a series of missions to assess our readiness for the threat of a large asteroid impact.
We’ll bring you all the developments as they happen over the next few hours, but before we get started, let’s take a look at the mission itself: