NASA Mission Aims to Deflect Asteroid

In the Bruce Willis-starring movie “Armageddon,” a killer asteroid threatened to hit the Earth and wipe out humanity. At a lab in Maryland, a team is trying to create a defense system for just such a scenario.

Dr. Elena Adams leads a team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, which is building a spacecraft to test whether they can hit an asteroid in space, throwing it off course enough to miss the Earth.

“Every now and again, when I'm feeling a little feisty, I say that my job is to save the world,” Adams said. “Most of the time I say I work at NASA missions and at this time I'm working on the DART mission that is going to move an asteroid.”

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission will target a moon revolving around the asteroid Didymos.

“If an asteroid the size of Didymos, which is the moon we’re trying to hit, would hit the Earth, it would basically create devastation on a regional scale,” Adams said. “So that's the catastrophe were trying to avoid.”

She's been training for this mission since she was a youngster studying astronomy.

“I'm confident in the team of people who are working on this and I'm very fortunate that this team’s going to help us make this mission work,” she said.


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The Applied Physics Laboratory has been launching spacecraft since 1959. The DART launch is scheduled for June 2021.

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