NASA will launch its first planetary defense test mission

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Photo courtesy of St. Louis Science Center McDonnell Planetarium

VANDENBERG AFB, CA. (NEWS10) – Vandenberg Space Force Base is teaming up in a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of NASA’s first planetary defense test mission. On Tuesday, November 23, at 10:20 p.m., Space Launch Complex-4 will launch a spacecraft designed to direct itself to impact an asteroid.

The mission of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft is to target the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”), which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”). Upon impact, DART will be traveling at an estimated speed of about 15,000 miles per hour officials say.

According to officials DART is projected to impact Dimorphos to change its orbit within the Didymos binary asteroid system. The Didymos system is the ideal candidate for DART they say because it poses no actual impact threat to Earth. Scientists will be able to measure changes in Dimorphos’ orbit with ground-based telescopes.

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