NASA is about to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid

An illustration of the DART spacecraft and the asteroids Didymos and Dimorphos | NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

Dimorphos is a lump of space rock so far away from Earth that we don’t even know what it looks like — and on Monday, we’re going to smash it with a spacecraft. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be traveling at more than 14,000 miles per hour when it hits the asteroid, in what has to be one of the most metal science experiments of all time.

DART is a NASA effort to see if it can change an asteroid’s movement in space. It’s being billed as the world’s first “planetary defense test mission” — a test run to see if we have what it takes to avert a serious asteroid impact on Earth sometime in the future. You know, just in case.

To be extremely clear, neither Dimorphos, or its larger companion Didymos, pose any threat to…

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