NASA plans to test as­ter­oid col­li­sion dam­age by cre­at­ing one

The Denver Post - - COLORADO KIDS -

Let’s start here: There is very lit­tle chance of an as­ter­oid strik­ing the Earth. While tiny rocks and dust en­ter the at­mos­phere daily, some­thing the size of a foot­ball only comes along ev­ery 2,000 years or so.

On the other hand, it would be a very bad thing if it did hap­pen.

So, while there’s no rea­son for you to worry about it, NASA is go­ing to worry about it for you.

One of their ideas is that, if an as­ter­oid were headed for the Earth, we might be able to knock it off course and away from us.

But that’s the kind of idea you might want to test be­fore the time when you need to make it work.

So NASA is now set­ting up a col­li­sion with one of a pair of twin as­ter­oids to see what will hap­pen.

The Dou­ble As­ter­oid Redi­rec­tion Test craft de­signed for this de­mo­li­tion derby in space is about the size of a re­frig­er­a­tor and will be trav­el­ing about three times as fast as a bul­let.

The as­ter­oid cho­sen is about 530 feet across, and NASA doesn’t ex­pect it to blow apart or go spin­ning out of the so­lar sys­tem.

But if the DART ve­hi­cle can dis­rupt its nor­mal course even a lit­tle bit, that pro­vides some con­fi­dence that, in the un­likely event a large as­ter­oid were headed this way, NASA would be able to get it to miss.

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