Speed Reading — Asteroids - Level 3 — 100 wpm

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Hollywood has made many sci-fi movies about asteroids crashing into Earth and destroying us all. The U.S. space agency NASA may have an answer to this end-of-the-world possibility. It has tested a spacecraft that could change the direction of an asteroid that might hit our planet. The spacecraft is called DART, which means Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The $325m craft set off on its journey in November 2021. Its goal was to crash into an asteroid called Dimorphos. The mission was a success. DART collided with the centre of the asteroid at 24,000 kph on Monday. Scientists do not yet know if they have changed the asteroid's direction. They will find out from data they will get in a few weeks' time.

It is the first time that humans have tried to change the direction of a space object. NASA spokesperson Glen Nagle said DART was the first of many "planetary protection missions". He compared our chances of surviving an asteroid hit to the end of the dinosaurs. He said: "We want to have a better chance than the dinosaurs had 65 million years ago." He added that in pre-history, all the dinosaurs could do was to "look up and say, 'Oh asteroid'". Another spokesperson, Lori Glaze, said DART represented a "new era for humankind". She said: "It's an era in which we potentially have the capability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous, hazardous asteroid impact."

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