NASA is one step closer to testing its proposed line of defence against the threat of a potential asteroid impact on Earth. The "kinetic impactor technique" essentially involves smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid to bounce it away from the Earth. Which sounds a lot saner than the plan hatched in Armageddon of sending oil drillers and a nuclear bomb.
Now entering its design phase، the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) would be NASA's first-ever trial of the method.
DART's target is a binary asteroid with two bodies known as Didymos* that will pass safely by Earth in 2022، and again in 2024. NASA's refrigerator-sized spacecraft will smash into the smaller of the two asteroids، Didymos B (160 metres in size)، which is orbiting the larger Didymos A (780 metres in size).
DART will hurtle into Didymos B at a speed of 3.7 miles per second -- nine times faster than a bullet -- causing it to shift its orbit.