You may have already watched the star-studded movie Don’t Look Up released by Netflix over the holidays about a comet on its way to destroy our planet. It is an amusing film. Hopefully, it will also move people towards NASA and away from politicians, not that politicians really have much of a following. The more interesting story that should capture the public’s attention pertains to a little NASA spacecraft, part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, that will crash into a real asteroid next fall to determine whether or not we are able to nudge one of these monsters in a new direction – that is, away from Earth. The asteroid in question is called Dimorphos, which is about 160 meters in diameter and would create an explosion equivalent to approximately 500 megatons of TNT should it strike our planet. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was equivalent to about 16,000 tons of TNT. So this test is pretty important in terms of long term planning as well as survival. Check out the DART link above to read more about the mission.
Extra: Astronomy.com has an interesting story worth checking out – “Astronomer Amy Mainzer spent hours chatting with Leonardo DiCaprio for Netflix’s Don’t Look Up.”