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Asteroids and Earth have had a huge history. These huge and bulky rocks were the reason dinosaurs got extinct. These asteroids could be bigger than countries and are capable of wiping out a whole planet. This gets scarier if one such asteroid is approaching towards our Earth at super-high speeds. Well, NASA is working on keeping these giant rocks away from our planet.
NASA is working closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) on a project which is dubbed as the Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART). This is a practice run for creating secure defense grid for Earth against the asteroids. It will chuck a fast-moving projectile at an incoming asteroid to direct it away from the Earth.
For DART specifically, the target is an asteroid known as Didymos and a small rock orbiting it called Didymoon. While none of them are a threat to our planet, as they are far away. This is the prime reason they were chosen for DART, to keep us safe in case something goes wrong.
If this test goes well, NASA and ESA might start knocking even bigger asteroids out of their orbits. The spacecraft for the mission will take flight in 2020 or 2021, and will collide with the Didymoon in October 2022.
"We will better understand whether this technique can be used even for larger asteroids, giving us certainty we could protect our home planet if needed," ESA's Hera project scientist Michael Küppers said in a statement.