NASA has successfully crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid in the first planetary defense mission aimed at changing the direction of a celestial body.
Exactly as planned, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft slammed into the innocuous 530-foot-wide asteroid Dimorphos as part of a daring test mission deploying technology that could one day be used to tackle an object. dangerous headed for Earth.
The impact occurred at 7:14 pm ET (4:14 pm PT) on Monday, September 26, and was captured by a camera attached to the spacecraft. Never has an audience been so happy to see a live broadcast cut off…
IMPACT SUCCESS! view from #DARTMIssionDRACO Camera, as the vending machine-sized spacecraft successfully collides with the asteroid Dimorphos, which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth. pic.twitter.com/7bXipPkjWD
– NASA (@NASA) September 26, 2022
Astronomers will now point their telescopes at Dimorphos to measure its trajectory and see if the spacecraft managed to alter the asteroid’s course. If it did, the mission would have been a huge step forward in planetary defense, giving humans a great chance of avoiding the same fate as the dinosaurs if a large asteroid is ever detected coming directly at us.
“We are embarking on a new era of humanity,” a NASA livestream commentator said just seconds after the impact was confirmed. “An era where we potentially have the ability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous impact from a dangerous asteroid; what an amazing thing, we’ve never had that capability before.”
Last week, DART also released a camera called the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids (LICIACube). This will have passed over Dimorphos about three minutes after impact, capturing high-resolution images of the crash site, including the plume of asteroid material thrown up by the collision, and possibly the newly formed impact crater. We will share these images as soon as they are available.
This is a developing story. More to follow…