NASA is hosting a two-day expo at Allan Hancock College to celebrate its upcoming DART mission launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The DART, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test, mission is an attempt to redirect an asteroid as a test to prevent future asteroids from impacting Earth.
This is the first time the project will be tested in space. It will target the Dimorphos asteroid, which is about 530 feet long.
"With the smaller one, it's easier to measure the change and they, in fact, will observe this with telescopes here on Earth that can show us that orbital period, Then again, it's a proof of concept. This particular asteroid is no hazard to the Earth but the technology, the approach for how we would do this would scale up to a different potentially hazardous asteroid," explained Jay Kissell, NASA Planetary Missions Program Engineer.
Hancock's Asteroid Days expo includes exhibits on the mission along with lectures and workshops conducted by NASA representatives.
The college will also host a free public viewing of the launch Tuesday night from 9 p.m. to midnight at its Lompoc Valley Center located at One Hancock Drive in Lompoc. The event is free and open to the public.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will deliver the DART spacecraft is expected to launch at about 10:20 p.m.