There’s a giant boulder ahead and NASA is crashing a spaceship into it – and no, it’s not a movie.
On Monday, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft is expected to collide with Dimorphos, a small “moon” orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Didymos. NASA’s big idea here is to see if using such unmanned hardware to push incoming space junk out of harm’s way will protect Earth in the future.
You know the routine. Someone finds unmistakable evidence of a) an asteroid, b) a meteor, c) a comet, d) a rogue moon, or e) an entire planet closing in on us. Who believes these warnings? Exactly no one, until the sky was riddled with fast-moving debris slithering and tugging at the impending object. Then we a) panic, b) submit, or c) send some of our own humans up there to save us all.
Consider the most recent example of this subgenre, “Don’t Look Up”. Released last year in theaters and on Netflix, writer-director Adam McKay’s unruly political satire is sparked by two Michigan State University astronomers (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) who discover a comet that seems to have appeared out of nowhere and in six months collide with our planet hard enough to extinguish all life.
Before that, in 1998, there were two such blockbusters: Michael Bay’s “Armageddon” and Mimi Leder’s “Deep Impact”.
The first, whose threat was an asteroid the size of Texas, was a crowded, explosive action-thriller, undulating with broad humor and even broader settings with barely enough time for audience members to catch their breath. breath.
This last film, whose threat was, as with “Don’t Look Up”, a comet, was a more serious, carefully assembled and much less troubled variation on this theme.
If the actual DART is successful in its mission, we may be able to relax more when asteroids start to approach too close. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the movies will abandon “Chicken Little” themes altogether.
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