NASA succesfully slams into an astroid moon in the name of planetary protection

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) deliberately crashed into a rock on Monday, pushing it further into space.

This is the world’s first successful planetary defense technology demonstration.

The rock ‘Dimorphos’ has changed its course towards small moonlet orbiting a larger asteroid by the name of Didymos poses no harm to planet earth.

The DART mission was put into action yesterday 10 months after its official launch to test out new technologies that could be used to defend our planet against potential asteroid or comet hazards that may be detected in the future.

NASA’s official page live broadcasted the event from the DART space aircraft.

The mission team had members from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) use their expertise in navigation, the precise location of the target, asteroid science, and Earth-to-spacecraft communications. 

The DART spacecraft was launched back in November 2021 and is the world’s first planetary defense test mission.

It executed a kinetic impact into Dimorphos with resulted in a slight change in its motion in space. 

DART weighs about 600 kilograms.

Following the impact, the rock dust will be studied and data from many space telescopes will be analyzed to detail the specifics of the impact on Didymos.

“While not necessary for the DART mission to succeed, the pre-and post-impact images this small satellite’s two optical cameras LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid) and LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) will provide could benefit the scientific community for studies of near-Earth objects and aid in the interpretation of the DART results,” reported NASA’s official page.

Four years from now, it is expected that the European Space Agency’s Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both Dimorphos and Didymos, with a particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and precise measurement of Dimorphos’ mass.

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