NASA Spacecraft set to collide with an asteroid tonight in a historic mission

KBTX First News at Four(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A NASA mission that sounds like something out of a science fiction movie is scheduled to take place Monday, Sept. 26. For the first time in human history, mankind may deliberately move a natural celestial object in space.

Justin Spilker, an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Texas A&M University, joined First News at Four to share more about NASA’s DART mission.

DART, or the Double Asteroid Redirect Test, is a spacecraft that’s purposefully going to crash into an asteroid called Dimorphos. Evidence suggests one or more asteroids caused the extinction of dinosaurs on earth. While this asteroid poses no threat, scientists hope the mission will better prepare the world for any future dangers.

According to Spilker, there are also many smaller objects that can cause problems on earth, but this is the first time in human history where we can actually do something about that.

For the mission, a spacecraft about the size of a refrigerator will be moving about four miles per second at the time of impact. Dimorphos is the smaller one of a pair of asteroids that orbit each other.

“The idea is that basically after this impact we will have slowed down ever so slightly the orbit of that smaller asteroid compared to the bigger one,” explained Spilker.

The spacecraft is equipped with a camera that’s going to be live streaming about one image every second up until the very last seconds, giving the world a front row seat as it happens.

Watch the full interview in the player above.