Just one part of NASA's larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid's motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.
DART will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it – a method of deflection called kinetic impact. The test will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered. LICIACube, a CubeSat riding along with DART and provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), will be released prior to DART's impact to capture images of the impact and the resulting cloud of ejected matter.