RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — “Awaiting visual confirmation. Alright! We got it? We have impact!”
Those exclamations were just about a month ago when NASA intentionally crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid.
It was called DART—or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test—and it was a test mission to see if we could change the orbit of an asteroid.
That test was a success!
Before impact, it took Dimorphos, the asteroid that was hit with the spacecraft, 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit around a larger asteroid. After the impact, it now takes 11 hours and 23 minutes to orbit: a change of more than 30 minutes.
Scientists have been able to gather this information thanks to satellite data and observations, and it’s a big deal.
This test mission was like insurance, just in case an asteroid would threaten Earth.
“Even that tiny speed change if we were to do it 20 or 30 years ahead of time on a Dimorphos sized object, it would be enough to make it miss the Earth,” explains Andy Rivkin, the Investigation Team Lead for the DART Mission.
“And that’s the other piece of planetary defense is finding what’s out there so that way we have the 20 to 30 years warning to be able to use techniques like this,” Rivken added.
There are no threats to Earth anytime soon, but it’s always good to have a plan.
You can see more about DART in the News from NASA and here NASA’s DART mission to crash into asteroid Monday night.
And read up on how the orbit has changed here NASA Confirms DART Mission Impact Changed Asteroid’s Motion in Space | NASA