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Nasa tests new spacecraft to guard Earth against asteroid strike

Nasa tests new spacecraft to guard Earth against asteroid strike

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Asteroid collisions are a favourite theme of Hollywood disaster movies — hitting the Earth with a cataclysmic impact or deflected at the last moment by heroic human intervention.

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Now, new technology aimed at averting any future threat to the planet is being put to the test by Nasa scientists,

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, who are preparing to smash a spacecraft into a faraway asteroid at 23,000kph in order to divert its path.

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The $300mn Dart mission, which is short for double asteroid redirection test, involves ramming the half-tonne craft into an asteroid called Dimorphos and monitoring the shift in its path through space

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Dimorphos is unusual because while most asteroids orbit the sun, it moves around a larger asteroid called Didymos.

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The target asteroid was chosen because it will be easier to assess changes to its local orbit than it would be to measure a deflection around the sun.

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