BLUF

NASA, via SpaceX, is launching a small spacecraft to assess whether it is feasible to knock an asteroid off course.

Summary

In 1908, a meteoroid about 60 m in diameter hit Siberia, destroying about 80 million trees. The possibility of an asteroid causing massive damage to Earth remains a possibility. Therefore, NASA is funding the Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft. This article makes the following points:
  • Designed over ten years by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
  • It's a "kinetic impactor" designed to deflect future asteroids away from Earth.
  • It will be put into space by a SpaceX' Falcon 9 rocket.
  • It was delayed from July due to technical issues and COVID-19.
  • The Astroid Dimorphos (160 m diameter) is the target; however, it is not a danger to Earth.
  • The aim is to demonstrate that crashing an object into an asteroid could alter its course.
  • A small asteroid deviation could grow over time.
  • The force used must be enough to knock the asteroid off course without shattering the asteroid and thereby creating smaller asteroids that might prove a threat to Earth.