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Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - 2021-11-21

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NASA to launch world’s first planetary defence mission

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It may sound like a scene from a Hollywood movie but NASA says it is planetary defence mission! It’s called The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and it’s being tested with the aim to protect Earth from any future potential threat from an asteroid. This space ship is designed to knock into an asteroid called Dimorphos - which is the size of a football stadium - and change its orbit and direction of travel. Dimorphos isn’t a threat to Earth but it’s hoped the mission will be a good to test to help prevent any damage from future asteroids. While no known large asteroid has the next 100 years, only about 40 percent of those asteroids have been found as of October 2021. How does it work? Dart will launch on November 23 from Vandenberg space force base, California, on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. It’ll take the rocket some time to reach its target. It’s due to collide with Dimorphos in October 2022. Dart is part of a larger, two-part mission called the Asteroid Impact AIDA) mission. The second part is being run by the European Space Agency and is called the Hera mission. It’ll launch in October 2024 and will study the aftermath of this collision up close to see if it’s been successful or not.

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