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Planetary defense involves looking for potential asteroids or comets that might impact Earth, and preventing these near-Earth objects from reaching our planet.

In 2016, NASA established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) to manage these planetary defense efforts. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is NASA’s first spacecraft mission developed to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique. Built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, DART is one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy and will help us learn how to better protect the planet in the future.

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Support the DART mission and the PDCO by taking this short quiz. If you pass, you will become a Planetary Defender!

DART is a spacecraft designed to impact an asteroid as a test of technology. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. This asteroid system is a perfect testing ground to see if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course, should an Earth-threatening asteroid be discovered in the future. While no known asteroid larger than 140 meters in size has a significant chance of hitting Earth for the next 100 years, only about 40 percent of those asteroids have been found as of August 2022.

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Planetary Defender Certificate

An on-orbit demonstration of asteroid deflection is a key test that NASA and other agencies wish to perform before any actual need is present. The DART mission is NASA's demonstration of kinetic impactor technology, impacting an asteroid to adjust its speed and path. DART is NASA’s first-ever space mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor. The DART mission was developed and led for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office is the lead for planetary defense activities and is sponsoring the DART mission. DART launched in the fall of 2021 and will impact Dimorphos in 2022. Learn more about the DART mission.

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