NASA’s first-ever planetary defense test was declared a success.
On September 26, Nasa conducted the final phase of its DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission.
The mission was to ram a spacecraft into an asteroid called Dimorphos to change its trajectory.
Now, Nasa has finally revealed that the collision between their unmanned spacecraft and Dimorphos was a success.
The asteroid’s trajectory has shifted and is now orbiting a larger asteroid called Didymos.
“This is a tipping point for the defense of the planet and a tipping point for humanity,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Nelson added that the mission “shows that NASA is trying to be prepared for whatever the universe throws at us.”
NASA’s spacecraft was traveling at more than 14,000 miles per hour when it struck Dimorphos.
At that point, the space rock was about 7 million miles from Earth and posed no threat to our planet.
“The impact was perfectly executed,” said Megan Bruck Syal, project manager for the planetary defense project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
NASA’s DART mission was first launched on November 23, 2021.
The spacecraft launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California.
The impact between the vehicle and the space rock was recorded at exactly 7:14 p.m. EST on September 26, 2022.
Nasa’s experiment hopes to solidify a method of protecting Earth from future asteroids.
According to Nasa, there are currently no asteroids larger than 140 meters in diameter known to be on a collision course with Earth for the next 100 years.
Alan Fitzsimmons, a member of the DART team and an astronomy professor at Queen’s University Belfast, said he would like to test a gravity tractor technique next.
Fitzsimmons said this is important “because it is actually very difficult to accurately guide and maneuver spacecraft in close proximity to an asteroid.”
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9551546/nasa-asteroid-impact-test-earth-space-rock-threats/ Nasa unveils results of asteroid impact test protecting Earth from space rock threats