The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to launch mission DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) at the end of this month to protect the Earth from asteroids. This is reported on Space.com.
The DART mission worth 330 million dollars will be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch window opens on November 23 at 22:20 local time or November 24 at 06:20 GMT.
The window of other possible launch dates is long enough for an interplanetary launch – until February 2022.
The mission is expected to arrive in the binary asteroid system called Didymos (or 65803 Didymos) next autumn.
The largest asteroid in the system, Didymos A, has a diameter of 780 meters, while the smallest, Didymos B, has a diameter of 160 meters. DART will fall into the latter because it is the asteroid most likely to threaten the planet in the future.
Asteroids of the said system pose no threat to Earth, the publication notes. However, scientists plan to train in case of a real threat.
DART is a demonstration mission to study the use of kinetic impact to deflect an asteroid from Earth.