NASA spacecraft successfully collides with an asteroid

NASA successfully tested its Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft which collided with an asteroid on Monday night.

The asteroid Dimorphos, which NASA says is the size of a football stadium, does not pose a threat to the planet in this case. But the mission will help scientists test technologies that could prevent a potentially catastrophic asteroid impact.

Here’s what you need to know about the mission:

How did the DART mission go?

The refrigerator-sized plane, launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last November, traveled about 7 million miles to reach its point of impact. At the receiving end of this collision was Dimorphos, a small asteroid that is the moon of a larger space rock, Didymos.

Dimorphos, which means “having two forms” in Greek, spans 525 feet or 160 meters in diameter.

DART will record images with the Didymos reconnaissance and asteroid camera for optical navigation. The instruments will give viewers a first glimpse of Didymos and allow the spacecraft to autonomously steer towards a direct collision with the small asteroid Dimorphos.

At the time of impact, DART was traveling at 14,000 mph, a speed fast enough to cover the final 4 miles in a single second.

Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube before impact with the binary system Didymos.

Steve Gribben/APL via NASA

The plane will not destroy Dimorphos but was to redirect the space rock onto a different flight path.

“The idea is that asteroid impacts occur when an asteroid’s orbit and Earth’s orbit intersect,” Andy Rivkin of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (Johns Hopkins APL) told ABC News. , which is building the spacecraft and managing the mission for NASA. November. “So the idea of ​​the kinetic impactor is to give the asteroid a little push so that it doesn’t appear at the same time, in the same place as Earth.”

“It’s the only natural disaster humanity can do something about,” Rivkin said of asteroid impacts. “And this is our first attempt to take this into our own hands, to take our future into our own hands in this way.”

ABC News

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