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It's not 'Armageddon,' but NASA is launching a first-of-its-kind mission to redirect an asteroid

The asteroid isn't a threat to Earth but NASA wants to test its planetary defense capabilities for the future.

HOUSTON — Early Wednesday morning, NASA will launch its first mission to redirect an asteroid.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft will head toward the asteroid Didymos and its small moon, Dimorphos, which is the target of the mission. The asteroid is not a threat to Earth but NASA wants to test its planetary defense capabilities for the future.

The DART mission will be the first of its kind. Its goal is to alter the asteroid's path to find out if it's possible to protect Earth in the future.

DART is set to launch just after midnight Wednesday.

It's not 'Armageddon'

"This is a better method than Armageddon," said Betsy Congdon, a mechanical systems engineer for DART. "The spacecraft actually guides itself into the asteroid. It's going at 15,000 miles per hour."

Dimorphos is pretty far away from Earth, too.

"It's about 27 times that distance (from the Earth to the moon)," Congdon said. "It's really important. Planetary defense as we like to say is a global sport."

How big is Dimorphos?

The asteroid is about the size of the Great Pyramid of Egypt.

An asteroid that size could cause severe damage if it were to hit Earth.

Asteroid threat

No known asteroid is expected to impact Earth for at least 100 years.

Obviously, undiscovered asteroids still pose a risk.

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