DART section lead available to discuss upcoming asteroid impact experiment

On Sept. 26, the international community will watch as NASA’s latest spacecraft collides with an asteroid in an attempt to knock it off its orbit.

Cristina Thomas, an assistant professor of astronomy and planetary sciences at Northern Arizona University and lead of the DART Observations Working Group, has spent the nine months since the DART mission launch collecting data from the ground and waiting for the historic moment of impact. It’s all part of a long-term planetary defense strategy to avoid an “Armageddon” scenario—scientists want to know if they can knock on asteroid headed toward Earth off its path.

As lead of the working group, Thomas will be on the ground at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, monitoring the mission and collecting data with the rest of the DART team.

Thomas is available to discuss her work leading up to this point, including the telescope work before and since the November launch to make sure scientists have as much data as possible before impact.

Contact: Cristina Thomas, assistant professor of planetary science; (928) 523-0294 or [email protected] 

PR contact: Heidi Toth, assistant director of NAU Communications; (575) 910-0697 or [email protected]