In first-ever planetary defense test NASA’s DART mission hits the 160-m diameter asteroid.
NASA’s broadcast of the historic mission can be seen in the video, with the impact taking place at the 1-hour-15-minute mark.
Moving at 6.1 km per second, the vending-machine-sized Double Asteroid Redirect Test spacecraft struck the asteroid at 01:15 CEST (00:15 BST) in the early hours of Tuesday morning, in humankind’s first test of the ‘kinetic impactor’ method of planetary defense.
After 10 months flying in space, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration – successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday, the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.
“At its core, DART represents an unprecedented success for planetary defense, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”
DART targeted the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, a small body just 530 feet (160 meters) in diameter. It orbits a larger, 2,560-foot (780-meter) asteroid called Didymos. Neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth.
The mission’s one-way trip confirmed NASA can successfully navigate a spacecraft to intentionally collide with an asteroid to deflect it, a technique known as kinetic impact.
Images credit NASA