The world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday after spending 10 months in space. This was the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in orbit.
At 7:14 p.m. EDT, the successful impact was announced by mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.
DART’s collision with the asteroid Dimorphos illustrates a workable mitigation approach for defending the globe from an Earth-bound asteroid or comet, should one be identified, as part of NASA’s wider planetary defense strategy.
The NASA DART mission was to target the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, a tiny rock with a diameter of only 530 feet (160 meters). It revolves around the bigger Didymos, a 2,560-foot (780-meter) asteroid. There is no danger to Earth from either asteroid.
The mission’s successful one-way flight demonstrated that NASA can steer a spacecraft to kinetically contact an asteroid in order to divert it.
The Hera mission of the European Space Agency will conduct thorough surveys of Dimorphos and Didymos in about four years, with a focus on the crater produced by the DART crash and a precise determination of Dimorphos’ mass.
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