NASA will crash into an asteroid and try to deflect it

The launch of the Dart probe, last November. NASA/Bill Ingalls/NASA/Bill Ingalls/Cover Images v

DECRYPTION – Dart, a 500 kg “dart”, will try to modify the trajectory of the small asteroid Dymorphos.

The meeting between the Dart probe and its target promises to be brief, but intense. At 1:14 a.m. (French time) on the night of Monday to Tuesday, the NASA spacecraft will strike the asteroid Dymorphos at more than 22,000 km / h. The more than 300 million dollar probe will be instantly destroyed by the violence of the impact, a crash which will be… a perfect success! Dart’s objective is indeed to crash into its target to see if the shock will cause it to deviate from its trajectory. Rest assured: this asteroid poses no threat to Earth. It’s just a test.

The first thing to check is the possibility of hitting a target that threatens us. It’s probably not the most complicated, but it’s not trivial either. The “body” of the probe is a kind of cube with a side of about one meter flanked by two “wings”, solar panels each 9 meters long. The asteroid measures 160 meters in diameter and is currently located 11 million kilometers…

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