Developing the Means to Prevent an Asteroid Collision

Thousands of near-Earth asteroids come within relatively close proximity of Earth’s orbit, many large enough to cause significant damage should they collide with the planet. While only a fraction of those asteroids could potentially pose a threat, asteroid impacts have happened many times in Earth’s long history and could potentially happen again.

To get ahead of this potential threat, APL is joining NASA and others to ensure we have the capabilities to defend Earth should the threat of an asteroid impact ever arise again. APL has a long history of studying asteroids. Our engineers and scientists built NASA’s first asteroid reconnaissance spacecraft, NEAR Shoemaker, which became the first mission to ever orbit and land on an asteroid.

APL lead NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the agency’s first-of-its-kind planetary defense test mission. It intentionally crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid that wasn’t on a collision course with Earth to demonstrate whether we could redirect an asteroid and prevent a cataclysmic collision.

Expertise in Action