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Watch NASA launch a probe to smash into an asteroid. It's practice for pushing city-killing space rocks away from Earth.

Added 11-23-21 11:14:01pm EST - “NASA may one day need to save Earth from an incoming asteroid. The plan: launching a spacecraft to nudge away space rocks.” - Businessinsider.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Businessinsider.com: “Watch NASA launch a probe to smash into an asteroid. It's practice for pushing city-killing space rocks away from Earth.”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

The mission, called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), is sending a spacecraft traveling nearly 7 million miles to slam itself into an asteroid. The probe, a 4-foot-wide box, is a pebble compared to the enormous Colosseum-sized asteroid it's aiming for. But the impact should give the space rock enough of a nudge to change its path orbiting a larger asteroid.

NASA is testing whether such a nudge could one day divert a rogue space rock headed for Earth. Scientists don't currently know of any dangerous Earth-bound asteroids, but NASA estimates that they have only spotted about 40% of asteroids near Earth that are 140 meters (450 feet) or larger. Such an asteroid could level an entire city.

DART is set to begin its journey at 1:20 a.m. ET on Wednesday, lifting off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. If all goes according to plan, it will reach its destination in September 2022.

DART is a two-pronged test of a planetary-defense method, according to Tom Statler, a NASA astrophysicist working on the mission.

"The first test is testing our technological ability to hit the asteroid. And the second test is testing the response of a real asteroid to being hit. The first test ends and the second test starts at the moment that the spacecraft is smashed to bits," Statler told Insider. 

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