NASA launched the first planetary defensive rocket. The rocket aims to test the ability to strike asteroids and deflect them off course before they cause any damage to Earth. Successful results from these tests could lead to reliable protection of the world in the future.
The rocket has a DART the size of a vending machine. It is released into space while the lower section safely returns to Earth. The DART is being tested using smaller asteroids that are far from Earth. The team aims to knock asteroids off course at 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph). They expect to shorten the orbital track by 10 minutes but will accept 73 seconds, given it is millions of miles away.
"It's going to deflect its path around the larger asteroid, so we're demonstrating asteroid deflection in this double asteroid system," says Nancy Chabot, the mission coordination lead.
It is rare for asteroids to impact Earth. However, developing this system will keep the world protected against potential catastrophic events.