NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid 11 million miles from Earth to ‘save humanity’ during landmark DART mission.

MISSIONS staff jumped to their feet after a spacecraft crashed into an asteroid on Monday, confirming a crowning achievement in planetary defense.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission intentionally crashed into an asteroid 11 million miles from Earth tonight.

A NASA spacecraft intentionally crashed into an asteroid today in a bid to potentially save humanity

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A NASA spacecraft intentionally crashed into an asteroid today in a bid to potentially save humanityPhoto credit: NASA
The loss of signal confirmed that DART had hit the asteroid

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The loss of signal confirmed that DART had hit the asteroidPhoto credit: NASA

It’s Nasa’s first planetary defense mission and just the beginning, as the agency will use the information to see if DART actually changed the asteroid’s orbit.

Mission operations staff members watched the impact as the asteroids grew in size in the camera’s image.

“We have influence!” announced one commenter.

The impact was confirmed when DART lost its signal upon impact with the asteroid.

“We are showing that defending the planet is a global effort,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, adding the program was a “giant step in defending the planet.”

Nasa will capture images of the impact with a small satellite, which will beam images back to Earth about 24 hours later.

The scheme mirrors the plot of the 1998 blockbuster flick Armageddon, in which Nasa flies a spacecraft to an asteroid to prevent it from hitting Earth.

“DART will be the first demonstration of kinetic impactor technology to alter the motion of an asteroid in space,” NASA says on its website.

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The DART spacecraft consists of a box-shaped body about twice the size of a washing machine, flanked by two 18-metre-long solar panels.

“DART was built to be destroyed,” NASA said in a statement.

It took the spacecraft nine months to reach the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos, 11 million miles from its home planet.

Didymos is about 740 meters in diameter and is located between the orbits of Earth and Mars. It’s not the primary focus of the mission.

Instead, NASA’s intrepid battering ram will target a smaller asteroid — or moonlet — that closely orbits Didymos.

Dubbed Dimorphos, meaning “two forms,” ​​the asteroid is 525 feet in diameter and was chosen for this mission because of its potential threat to Earth.

The impact will not destroy the asteroid, but will change its speed so that it aligns with Didymos’ orbit.

“Sometimes we describe it as like driving a golf cart into a big pyramid or something,” said Nancy Chabot, planetary scientist and DART coordination lead at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

“But for Dimorphos, it’s really about asteroid deflection, not perturbation.”

There are currently no asteroids on a direct impact course with Earth, but there are over 27,000 near-Earth asteroids of all shapes and sizes.

The data collected by DART will aid in planetary defense strategies and could help scientists understand the type of force required to shift the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid.

https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9472198/nasa-dart-asteroid-mission-test-science/ NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid 11 million miles from Earth to ‘save humanity’ during landmark DART mission.

Fry Electronics Team

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