Nasa to SMASH giant asteroid with aircraft at 23,000kph in £240m mission to defend the earth

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NASA is set to smash a giant asteroid with an aircraft at 23,000kph in to defend the earth.

The £240m mission, dubbed DART after Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is expected to take place in September.

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Nasa to will smash a giant asteroid in its £240m mission to defend earth
TM Graphic Incoming Asteroid v2 1

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Movies like Armageddon and Don’t Look Up have artistically explored consequences of existential threat.

Now the real world is taking action to prevent another catastrophic event, such as dinosaurs being wiped out 65million years ago.

The new technology will smash a half-tonne spacecraft into a distant asteroid called Dimorphos to redirect it away from Earth.

Dimorphos’ movements will then be monitored due to its rare orbit path around a larger asteroid called Didymos.

Andy Cheng, chief scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and a senior researcher came up with the DART concept, the Financial Times reports.

He said: “It feels very exciting — like a dream come true — for something we’ve been thinking about for 20 years to be actually happening.”

The main DART craft was launched into space in November last year and holds a satellite made by the Italian Space Agency.

It will measure and monitor the impact while ground-based telescopes back earth, 11million km away, will record further measurements.

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Another spacecraft, sent by the European Space Agency in 2026, will analyse each element of the impact.

Patrick Michel, a planetary scientist at France’s Côte d’Azur Observatory and Hera’s principal investigator, said scientists are eager to see what happens.

He said: “What makes this mission so exciting is that previous visits to asteroids by spacecraft — Japan’s Hayabusa2 and Nasa’s Osiris-Rex — have found surprises.

“We know very little about the physical characteristics of Dimorphos apart from its size. Modelling of the impact shows a whole range of possible outcomes.”

Nasa said: “DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.”

It comes as the space agency announced its keeping a close eye on a huge asteroid that’s heading in our direction.

Asteroid 467460 (2006 JF42) is expected to make a close approach to Earth next week.

The US space agency has added the large space rock to its Earth Close Approaches table.

The asteroid is estimated to be up to a staggering 2,756 feet wide.

That’s almost twice the size of the Empire State Building which is 1,250 feet high without its tip or 1,454 feet high with it.

Fortunately, the giant space rock should stay 3.5million miles away from our planet.

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If an asteroid comes within 4.65million miles and is over a certain size it’s considered “potentially hazardous” by cautious space agencies.

Nasa expects the asteroid to shoot past us at 25,000 miles per hour.

NASA recently launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission

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NASA recently launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission

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