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During the night from Monday to Tuesday, around 1:15 am, NASA will crash a small spacecraft on the asteroid Dimorphos, at a speed of more than 20,000 km / h.
Spaceships are not normally designed to crash. However, this is exactly what NASA planned to do, on the night of Monday September 26 to Tuesday September 27, to divert the trajectory of an asteroid by projecting a kamikaze ship on it. This unprecedented mission should allow us to learn how to protect humanity against a possible future threat.
The target asteroid poses no danger. But the mission, called Dart (“dart”, in English), must “help determine our response if we detect an asteroid threatening to hit Earth” in the future, NASA chief Bill Nelson said Monday.
The moment of impact, 11 million kilometers from Earth, can be followed live on the NASA video channel at the top of this article. The ship, no bigger than a car, took off in November from California. After ten months of travel, the time of the collision was scheduled for 01:14 am on Tuesday at a speed of over 20,000 km/h.
The target is actually a pair of asteroids: a large one, Didymos (780 meters in diameter), and its satellite, Dimorphos (160 meters in diameter), in orbit around it. The two are only a kilometer apart. It is in the little one, Dimorphos, that the ship must crash. This asteroid currently revolves around the larger one in 11 hours and 55 minutes, and the goal is to reduce its orbit by about ten minutes.
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