Oct 11, 2022 - Science
NASA's DART mission successfully deflected an asteroid
A NASA mission to change the orbit of an asteroid in deep space successfully deflected its asteroid target, the space agency confirmed today.
Why it matters: The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was designed to test the technology needed to throw a dangerous asteroid off-course with Earth if one is ever found.
Catch up quick: DART slammed into the small asteroid moonlet Dimorphos on Sept. 26 in a bid to change its path around the larger asteroid Didymos.
- NASA announced Tuesday that observations from ground and space-based telescopes found DART's impact changed the orbit of Dimorphos around Didymos, shortening it by about 32 minutes and effectively taking it off its normal course.
- The test would have been considered a success if it had just changed the orbit of Dimorphos by 73 seconds.
- It took a couple weeks for scientists to gather enough data to figure out just how much the moonlet's orbit had changed.
The big picture: NASA and other space agencies around the world are focused on finding and tracking potentially dangerous asteroids that could impact Earth sometime in the future.
- "This is a planet wide issue," Lori Glaze, the director of planetary science at NASA, said during a press conference today. "If there were an asteroid that were a threat to Earth, we should all be concerned and we all need to be working together."
- Scientists are now working to develop the Near Earth Object Surveyor telescope, a space-based observatory that will be able to detect difficult-to-find, possibly dangerous space rocks.
- That mission, however, has been delayed until 2028 due to a major budget cut to the NASA mission.
Go deeper: The asteroid threat gets real