In 1st planetary defence test, NASA’s Dart mission hits asteroid



Washington, September 27

After flying in space for 10 months, a NASA spacecraft successfully crashed into an asteroid on Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind mission to test whether space rocks that might threaten Earth in the future could be nudged safely out of the way, the US space agency said.

Big success, say Indian scientists

  • Mission a step towards preparing world for potential future asteroid strikes, Indian scientists say
  • Some asteroids are hazardous to Earth, it’s better to prepare defence, says Chrisphin Karthick of IIA-Bengaluru
  • “We now know to precisely aim spacecraft for such a small body,” he adds

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — the world’s first planetary defence technology demonstration — targeted the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, a small body just 160 m in diameter. Dimorphos orbits a larger 780-m 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, the agency said.

“Dart represents an unprecedented success for planetary defence, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. The team will now observe Dimorphos using ground-based telescopes to confirm that Dart’s impact altered the asteroid’s orbit around Didymos.


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