NASA's DART mission

Spacecraft and Space Missions

NASA’s DART Mission Launches for Head-on Collision with an Asteroid

The first-ever planetary defense mission is now on its way to the asteroid Didymos and its moon, Dimorphos.

Illustration of asteroids passing Earth

asteroid

Paintballs Clarify What Happens When an Asteroid Hits Earth’s Ocean

Coastal waves from mid-sized asteroid impacts might be more like a storm surge than a wall of watery destruction, according to NASA experiments with paintballs.

Science-based Q&A

If asteroid 99942 Apophis ever strikes Earth, how big would the crater be?

If the near-Earth asteroid 99942 Apophis ever strikes Earth, how big would the crater be? Apophis (formerly 2004 MN4) ranks at the top of the worrisome-asteroid list. On April 13, 2029 (yes, that will be a Friday the 13th), it will pass only 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles) from Earth’s surface…

Comet Tempel 1

Hobby-based Q&A

What is the most distant human-caused event that’s been easily verifiable with ordinary optics?

Like other amateurs, I observed the brightening of Comet Tempel 1 after it was hit by Deep Impact on July 4, 2005. Was this the most distant human-caused event that’s been easily verifiable with ordinary optics? (I used my 12-inch Dobsonian reflector.) Yes, we think so. The Deep Impact collision…

Apophis and Earth in 2029

Science-based Q&A

Will asteroid 99942 Apophis eclipse the Moon when it passes by?

When I heard that a 300-meter asteroid will approach Earth at a distance of only 18,000 miles in 2029, I figured it was time to break out the old slide rule. Wouldn't an object that big and close be able to eclipse the Moon, if it should pass in front…

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