Expert available to speak on NASA’s asteroid redirection testing

Paul Wiegert, Department of Physics and Astronomy

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launched this week. The spacecraft is expected to hit the Dimorphos asteroid directly by September 2022 to test whether it’s possible to redirect an asteroid headed toward Earth.

Paul Wiegert, an asteroid expert at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space), is available for media interviews in English and French.

Even though it’s an extremely low risk, Wiegert says asteroids do pose some danger to Earth and it’s a risk that can be mitigated.

“If we know how to deflect space rocks, these low-risk events can be averted. When you shoot a hockey puck, even a slight tip can cause a large deflection by the time it gets to the net,” said Wiegert. “We need to learn how to do the same thing for asteroids and the DART mission is an important part of this testing and learning process.”

Wiegert is an expert in the dynamics of the Solar System, particularly its smaller bodies like asteroids, comets and meteoroid streams.

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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