Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

Nasa says Dart mission succeeded in shifting asteroids orbit

Nasa says Dart mission succeeded in shifting asteroids orbit


Nasa says Dart mission succeeded in shifting asteroids orbit

A spacecraft that plowed into a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles from Earth succeeded in shifting the orbit of the space rock, Nasa said on Tuesday, announcing the results of its first such test.

The US space agency strategically launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test ("Dart") spacecraft into the path of the asteroid, thereby throwing it off course.

Nasa hopes to be able to deflect any asteroid or comet that comes to pose a real threat to Earth.

The Nasa administrator, the former astronaut and Democratic Florida senator Bill Nelson, said: "We showed the world that Nasa is serious as a defender of this planet."

Lori Glaze, director of Nasa's planetary division, said: "Let's all just take a moment to soak this in. We're all here this afternoon because for the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit of a planetary body."

Two famous Nasa telescopes, Webb and Hubble, captured the moment the spacecraft collided with the moonlet asteroid on 26 September. It took days of observation to determine how much the impact altered the path of the 525ft asteroid around its companion, a much bigger rock.

In a statement following the test, Nasa said Dart "intentionally crashed into Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet in the double-asteroid system of Didymos. It was the world's first test of the kinetic impact mitigation technique, using a spacecraft to deflect an asteroid that poses no threat to Earth, and modifying the object's orbit.

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