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Here's What Would Really Happen If An Asteroid Was Going To Hit Earth
In a video recently released by NASA, asteroid expert Dr. Kelly Fast points out that for an asteroid impact to be preventable, the asteroid must be located before it poses a threat. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office works to track and predict future movements of asteroids, allowing time to launch a deflection mission to change its course and keep us safe.
Although many asteroids collide with Earth every year, the vast majority are small and burn up in the atmosphere, creating shooting stars. However, there are times when bigger asteroids have posed significant threats to regions on Earth, such as the famous Tunguska Impact in 1908, when an asteroid created an enormous explosion in a sparsely populated area of Russia.
Space agencies have plans for anti-asteroid technologies, such as DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), a recently launched NASA mission. DART aims to make a spacecraft deliberately crash into one of a pair of asteroids — called Didymos and Dimorphos — to see if it will be able to redirect it.
DART, which launched in November 2021, will crash into the smaller of the two asteroids — Dimorphos, which is not a threat to Earth — and try to nudge it out of its current path. The spacecraft is around 100 times smaller than the asteroid and will use onboard computers to locate the asteroid and point itself toward it.
DART is expected to arrive at the asteroid in 2022 to attempt its collision. The European Space Agency is working on another spacecraft called Hera, which will launch in 2024 to follow the path of DART and arrive at the scene of impact in 2026 to collect data on how effective the collision was.