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    NASA to Perform Test Mission of Asteroid-Deflecting Spacecraft

    In 10 months, a robotic DART spacecraft will crash into “moonlet” called Dimorphos to test NASA’s asteroid-deflection ability. A SpaceX rocket is set to blast off from California late Tuesday to demonstrate this first-of-its-kind planetary defense system. The system is designed to change an asteroid trajectory to avoid any potential doomsday collision with Earth.

    The DART mission will use the kinetic energy from the spacecraft to nudge space boulders just enough to avoid our planet. The target for this mission is not on a path to hit Earth in the foreseeable future. It is also a very small fraction of the size of the Chicxulub asteroid that impacted Earth around 66 million years ago. 

    However, scientists said smaller asteroids are actually far more common and can pose a greater theoretical risk to Earth in the near future. If liftoff is postponed tonight, NASA will have an 84-day launch window in which to launch again. DART will have a 10-month journey before crashing into the asteroid around 11 million kilometres from Earth.

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