Nasa Dart asteroid spacecraft: Mission to smash into Dimorphos space rock launches

A spacecraft has launched on a mission to test technology that could one day tip a dangerous asteroid off course. Nasa’s Dart mission wants to see how difficult it would be to stop a huge space rock from colliding with Earth .The spacecraft will crash into an object called Dimorphos to see how much its speed and path can be altered. If a chunk of cosmic debris measuring a few hundred metres across were to collide with our planet, it could unleash continent-wide devastation.

“Dart will only be changing the period of the orbit of Dimorphos by a tiny amount. And really that’s all that’s needed in the event that an asteroid is discovered well ahead of time,” said Kelly Fast, from Nasa’s planetary defense co-ordination office. Commenting on the launch, she said: “We’re not out of the woods yet, we’ve got to get out to Dimorphos, but this is a huge step along the way.”

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