Hancock College is partnering with NASA for two days of space-focused activities and workshops leading up to the agency's Nov. 23 launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The DART will be launched toward a nonhazardous small moonlet asteroid Dimorphos to see if an intentional collision will throw it off its current course, as NASA officials test technologies intended to prevent an impact on Earth from a hazardous asteroid.
Community members can join a free public viewing of the event at Hancock's Lompoc Valley Center from 9 p.m. to midnight Nov. 23 along with NASA representatives and students and faculty from Hancock’s MESA/STEM program.
Prior to the launch, Asteroid Days will be held on the Santa Maria campus from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 22 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 23, with an expo organized by NASA representatives to be held inside the Student Center.
During the expo, students and the public can view exhibits about the DART mission, the Kennedy Space Center Launch Services program and the NASA Night Sky Network.
“NASA’s DART mission is a milestone for the agency. It’s our first planetary defense mission,” said Brian Mitchell of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “It’s also great to be working with Hancock College again to help bring this historic mission to the public. Our last collaboration was extremely successful for the community as well as NASA.”
NASA representatives also will lead lectures and workshops about their work with asteroids and ways the public can learn more about space. The lectures will be available in person and via livestream.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our students and community to learn firsthand about NASA’s planetary missions, DART, the protection of the Earth from asteroids, and NASA’s solar system visualization and analysis portals," said Hancock STEM counselor Christine Reed.
More information about Asteroid Days, including a full schedule of lectures, workshops and launch viewing information, is available at hancockcollege.edu/nasa.