This test worthy of a science fiction film should make it possible to better protect humanity against a possible threat.
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Mission code name: Dart (“dart” in English).a Nasa will attempt, on the night of Monday September 26 to Tuesday September 27, to deviate the trajectory of an asteroid by projecting a kamikaze ship on it. This test of “planetary defense”not without evoking the films Don’t Look Up: Cosmic Denial or Armageddonshould make it possible to better protect humanity in the face of a possible threat.
The Dart mission took off in November from California. After ten months of travel, the ship must hit the asteroid Dimorphos at 1:14 a.m. (French time), at a speed of more than 20,000 km/h. The craft is no bigger than a car, and its target is about 160m in diameter. That’s half the height of the Eiffel Tower.
Dimorphos does not represent a threat to the Earth in any way: its orbit around the Sun passes only seven million kilometers from us. But the mission “is important to realize before we discover a real need”said Andrea Riley, in charge of the Dart mission at NASA.
The moment of impact promises to be spectacular and can be followed live on the American agency’s video channel. It is not a question of destroying the asteroid but of pushing it slightly. The objective is to see how Dimorphos will react, in particular according to its porosity, that is to say if it is more or less compact.
Very few of the known asteroids are considered potentially dangerous, and none are over the next 100 years. If Dart misses its target, the ship should have enough fuel for another attempt in two years.