NASA to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid tonight- how you can watch the impact. Florida braces for Hurricane Ian. Russian exodus continues as draft intensifies.
NASA to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid tonight- how you can watch the impact.
In November last year, NASA launched a spacecraft as part of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (or DART) program. DART’s mission is to test our abilities to safely alter the course of sub-planetary bodies.
For its test, NASA has targeted the asteroid Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms), which orbits the larger asteroid Didymos (Greek for “twin”). The goal is to slightly alter the course of Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos without affecting the course of Didymos.
After a months’-long journey, the DART spacecraft is nearing its target .The craft will impact Dimorphos at about 7:14pm ET/6:14 pm CT tonight. You can watch the impact live on NASA’s media channel by clicking here.
Averting a cosmic disaster
Each year, Earth passes twice through the Taurid asteroid belt, treating sky watchers to spectacular meteor showers. However, there are some Taurid asteroids that are large enough to endanger life on Earth. Earth strikes by Taurid objects have been linked with past extinction-level events, such as the demise of the dinosaurs.
If you remember the 1997 movies “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact”, the scientists in the films have only days’ warning of an imminent cosmic disaster and decide to blow up the threatening asteroids with nukes. In the real world, however, such a tactic would only increase the danger, sending a scatter of smaller (but still very large) objects plummeting towards Earth.
The DART experiment will collect data that will help scientists to devise a system of “nudging” asteroids into a safer orbit, years and possibly decades before they ever threaten Earth. One commentator compared the impending impact with Dimorphos with a golf cart striking the Great Pyramid at Giza – but at 14,000 miles an hour.
Florida braces for Hurricane Ian
Over the weekend, Tropical Storm Ian graduated to a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to gather strength in the coming days. Hurricane Ian will strike Cuba tonight as a Category 3 hurricane. Then it will hit Florida on Wednesday or Thursday. By then, meteorologist expect warm Gulf waters to strengthen Ian to a Category 4 hurricane.
Cuba has already evacuated parts of the island and set up shelters in schools. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency. It’s not yet certain where in the state Ian will strike. Right now, it’s predicted to hit somewhere on the west coast or the panhandle. Officials are expecting dangerous flooding, high winds, storm surges and possibly tornados.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in coastal areas of Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located. The order will affect some 300,000 people. Tampa-area schools have already shut and prepared to shelter evacuees. Supermarkets in the area have seen increasing demand for essentials like bottled water, baby formula and packaged and canned foods. Some stores have even begun rationing bottled water.
Russian exodus continues as draft intensifies
The numbers of men fleeing Putin’s draft to fight in Ukraine have continued to grow. Traffic at border crossings is backed up for miles and men continue filling flights to countries they can visit without visas. Russia has also seen its most widespread protests since the war began.
Anecdotal reports suggest that men with no military experience are being called up. Men with multiple children and students (usually exempt from conscription) have also received draft papers. This contradicts Putin’s public statements that the draft would apply only to “reservists” with military experience. In a rare admission, the Kremlin acknowledged that there had been mistakes in the mobilization of draft orders and claimed officials were working to fix the problems.
At a recruiting station in Siberia, a man protesting his friend’s conscription shot a recruiting officer, who is now in critical condition. In the last week, protesters have set fire to several recruiting stations. Ukrainian military reports suggests conscripts are being sent directly to the front with little or no training.
At the beginning of the war, Ukraine banned men of military age from leaving the country. Russian authorities have not yet instituted such a ban, but fears are growing that they soon will.
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