• 1440 Daily Digest

NASA smashes into asteroid

A NASA space probe is scheduled to crash into a small asteroid today, the first-ever test of a potential planetary defense strategy that would alter the trajectory of space rocks before they make an impact with Earth. The asteroid in question, named Dimorphos, is not on a collision course with the planet. The roughly 600-foot-wide rock orbits a larger asteroid, with the pair making an elliptical orbit around the sun (see trajectory) and coming within a few million miles of Earth roughly every century. The mission will slam a 1,300-pound rudimentary spacecraft—carrying no scientific payload—traveling above 10,000 mph directly into the asteroid. The force of the impact will slightly change the trajectory of Dimorphous and its parent asteroid, which scientists will track over the coming years. Separately, NASA waived off its planned Tuesday launch of the Artemis I lunar mission due to Hurricane Ian, which is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico overnight.

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