The world’s first planetary defense system called the DART spacecraft was successfully launched by NASA at 10:21 pm Pacific time on Tuesday (11:51 am IST Wednesday) from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base. It was carried aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Asteroid Dimorphos: we’re coming for you!
— NASA (@NASA) November 24, 2021
The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos which is about 160-metre in diameter.
The spacecraft will collide with it at a speed of about 6.6 kilometres per second or 24,000 kilometres per hour. The collision is expected to take place between September 26 and October 1, 2022.
— Express Opinion (@ieopinion) November 24, 2021
In a podcast with Planetary Radio, Nancy Chabot, DART Mission Coordination Lead and Planetary Scientist for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab explained that Didymos is a perfect system for the test mission because it is an eclipsing binary which means it has a moonlet that regularly orbits the asteroid and we can see it when it passes in front of the main asteroid.