Next year, planetary defense will take a big step, conducting its first experiment to deflect an asteroid.
In late September or early October of 2022, the 1,210-pound (550 kilograms) DART spacecraft will slam itself into an asteroid called Dimorphos. Scientists will be watching eagerly, measuring how much the impact speeds up the space rock’s orbit around its larger companion, Didymos — the first real data about what it might really require to steer a threatening asteroid out of Earth’s path.
It’s just one rock, just a small change. Just to reduce the odds that we humans go the way of the dinosaurs. But DART’s impact will also mark a new relationship between humans and the solar system we live in, a milestone perhaps worth contemplating.
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