We’ve all seen those blockbuster movies in which scientists lay out complicated, risky plans to save Earth from an incoming asteroid. And those plans are almost always dependent on a bit of luck.
But what would really happen in real life?
NASA thinks it has an answer, and the space agency demonstrated that solution in a concept video (below) posted on Friday.
The video shows NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) vehicle deliberately crashing itself into one component of the binary asteroid system called Didymos.
“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA, said in a statement in June.
The plan is part of an international effort to develop a planetary defense program to address asteroids that might pose a danger to Earth.
The kinetic impact test will be carried out years from now, beginning with the first part of the mission in 2020 with the launch of two spacecraft, and execution of the test occurring in 2022.
In addition to NASA, partners in the plan include the European Space Agency (ESA), the Observatoire de la Côte d´Azur (OCA), and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL).
It may be years before we find out if this is effective, but at least we’re finally coming up with extinction-level event asteroid contingency plans that don’t include migrating to Mars with Elon Musk.