NASA has announced that its anti-asteroid test was a resounding success.
- The agency announced on Tuesday that the 1,260-pound Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe slammed into an asteroid 7 million miles from Earth at 14,000 mph on September 26 and successfully changed the object’s orbit.
- “Analysis of data obtained over the past two weeks by NASA’s… investigation team shows the spacecraft’s kinetic impact with its target asteroid, Dimorphos, successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit. This marks humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology,” says NASA.
- NASA will still be collecting data on the test through 2024 when a probe from the European Space Agency will be launched to survey the asteroid Dimorphos again and photograph the impact crater.
- Space agencies are not currently tracking any life-threatening asteroids and are performing the test as a precautionary measure.
Why it’s news
The test proves the viability of anti-asteroid technology, which had never been tested before last month.
As we previously reported, NASA scheduled to crash a satellite into a near-Earth asteroid to see if the impact could change its trajectory. It was the first mission of its kind to see if asteroid impacts can be diverted by human means, potentially stopping extinction-level impacts in the future.
The test was an impressive show of NASA’s scientific capabilities, as it required precision calculations to accurately target the moving asteroid in the vastness of space. Its success shows a lot of promise for the future.
“This result is one important step toward understanding the full effect of DART’s impact with its target asteroid. As new data come in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way,” says NASA director Lori Glaze.
“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have. This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA’s exceptional team and partners from around the world,” says NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.