NASA’s Asteroid Mission Spotlights Planetary Defense

Can the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shift the orbit of an asteroid by smashing into it with a fast-moving spacecraft? The agency might find out Monday, when a bus-size craft traveling at a speed in excess of 14,000 miles an hour tries to hit a 525-foot-wide space rock.

The anticipated collision between the uncrewed spacecraft and the asteroid, named Dimorphos, marks the climactic moment of NASA’s $325 million Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission. DART is the world’s first mission to test a technology that one day might protect Earth from a catastrophic asteroid impact.