EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — On Monday, NASA is testing a theory with a first-of-its-kind experiment.

They will be crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid.

NASA is on a mission to keep the world safe. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, will intentionally crash into a near-Earth asteroid in the name of planetary defense. The question on the table: Could we redirect an asteroid if we ever needed to?

“We want to take the steps to develop technologies to potentially prevent asteroids from hitting the earth in the future if we needed to. So, the DART spacecraft is going to come speeding in, hit this asteroid and it’s going to change that motion of that asteroid ever so slightly in space, changing its future path. This is one technique you might use to change the path of an asteroid if one was ever found to be a threat to the earth in the future,” said Nancy Chabot, DART coordination lead.

The spacecraft will intentionally crash into a small asteroid called Dimorphos in an attempt to change its speed and orbit around its larger neighbor, Didymos. Following the impact, astronomers here on earth will monitor the orbit of Dimorphos to determine if DART successfully changed the asteroid’s motion in space.

“The way that you would use technology like this in the future if you needed to deflect an asteroid that was on course to Earth is not the Hollywood blockbuster last minute kind of scenario, it’s something you need to do years in advance. So you would do this, five, 10, 15, 20 years in advance, a small nudge adds up to a big change in position over time. That’s why you need this warning time,” explained Chabot.

While no known asteroid poses any significant risk of impact with earth in the next 100 years, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is staying prepared.

“Planetary defense is not just about deflecting asteroids. You can’t do anything about the asteroids if you don’t know where they are. So planetary defense’s key foundation is finding the asteroids, characterizing them, assessing them, and then taking steps to potentially prevent these natural disasters in the future,” added Chabot.

Humanity’s first test for planetary defense, something that could save the world one day.

Track DART’s one-way trip by visiting the NASA Asteroid watch Twitter Page.