NASA has launched a mission to deliberately bump a spacecraft into an asteroid in an attempt to alter its orbit and prevent future asteroids from destroying Earth dinosaur-style.
Carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (or DART) spacecraft took off from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base in the early hours of Wednesday (November 24).
The plan is to measure how much the impact speeds up the asteroid Dimorphos’ orbit around its larger twin, Didymos (780 metres in diameter), and should receive important data to help divert future asteroids that may be headed for Earth.
The mission marks the first time humanity has tried to interfere with the gravitational position of an interstellar object.
While Dimorphos doesn’t actually pose any major danger to humanity, scientists say that smaller asteroids are far more common and could pose a greater threat in the short-term.
The lift-off was shown live on Nasa TV and on the SpaceX Twitter account. Watch it below.