CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — In the first-of-its kind, save-the-world experiment, NASA is about to clobber a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away.
A spacecraft named Dart will zero in on the asteroid Monday, intent on slamming it head-on at 14,000 mph (22,500 kph). The impact should be just enough to nudge the asteroid into a slightly tighter orbit around its companion space rock — demonstrating that if a killer asteroid ever heads our way, we’d stand a fighting chance of diverting it.
Cameras and telescopes will watch the crash, but it will take months to find out if it actually changed the orbit.
The $325 million planetary defense test began with Dart’s launch last fall.
The asteroid with the bull’s-eye on it is Dimorphos, about 7 million miles (9.6 million kilometers) from Earth.