NASA spacecraft will slam into asteroid in first planetary-defence test

, it will be the first test of a way to protect Earth from killer asteroids.

The asteroid that NASA is smashing into, called Dimorphos, is not a threat to Earth

Launched from California on 23 November, the spacecraft is called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)1

 The impact should shrink Dimorphos’s orbit so that it circles Didymos at least 73 seconds faster than before.

 NASA has identified more than 27,000 asteroids with trajectories that bring them close to Earth.

 The worry is that some new asteroid could appear, headed directly towards the plane

Researchers will have a chance to get answers, because minutes later, a tiny probe funded by the Italian Space Agency will fly by to photograph the aftermath3

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