NASA Unveils Plan to Test Asteroid Defense Technique

Humanity could face one less doomsday scenario if NASA has its way.

On Friday, the space agency announced plans to redirect the course of a small asteroid approaching Earth, as part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), according to a NASA press release.

The release notes that asteroids hit Earth nearly every day, but most are small enough to burn up in the atmosphere.

But the DART project — a joint effort between NASA and the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland — is for the asteroids that are too big to break up — those that could have severe consequences for the Earth if they hit.

“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer in Washington, in the press release.

“This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.”

The target of the test is an asteroid system called Didymos, the release said. Didymos — Greek for “twin” — is a binary asteroid system, made up of one asteroid, Didymos A, and a smaller one, Didymos B, which orbits its larger neighbor.

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SOURCE: CNN, Dakin Andone