BREAKING: NASA’s Just Crashed A Spacecraft Into an Asteroid to Defend the Earth

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Bullseye: In a historic test of humanity’s capacity to stop a celestial object from destroying life on Earth, a NASA spacecraft on Monday successfully hit an asteroid 7 million miles away in order to alter its orbit.

Ten months after blasting off from California on its ground-breaking mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor successfully impacted its target, the space asteroid Dimorphos, at 7:14 pm Eastern Time (2314 GMT).

“We’re embarking on a new era, an era in which we potentially have the capability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous hazardous asteroid impact,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division.

The final full picture taken by the camera on board DART is displayed below.

Dimorphos, a 530-foot (160-meter) asteroid that is nearly the same size as an Egyptian pyramid, circles Didymos, its half-mile-long larger brother. The “moonlet,” which had never been seen before, first emerged as a speck of light around one hour before the impact.

In the last five minutes, as DART sped toward it at around 14,500 miles (23,500 kilometres) per hour, its egg-like form and rugged, boulder-dotted surface finally came into full view.

The screen froze on a last picture, signalling that communication had been lost and impact had occurred, and NASA scientists and engineers burst into celebration.

NASA intends to reduce Dimorphos’ orbit by impacting it directly, cutting the time it now takes to encircle Didymos—11 hours and 55 minutes—by 10 minutes.

In the next days and weeks, a precise orbital period should be available from ground telescopes, which can detect changes in the patterns of light coming from the asteroid system even if they cannot directly see it.

What had previously only been done in science fiction, most notably in movies like Armageddon and Don’t Look Up, has now become a reality thanks to the proof-of-concept.

This was the final image captured by DART.

Reference(s): NASA

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