By T.K. Randall
September 27, 2022 · 9 comments
The camera feed from the probe showed its last moments as it careened into the asteroid Dimorphos.
Launched back in November 2021, DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) was designed to test if it is possible to deflect a dangerous incoming asteroid by deliberately flying a spacecraft straight into it.
For the mission, scientists chose to send the probe to collide with Dimorphos – a moon of the asteroid Didymos – which measures around 160 meters across and poses no actual threat to the Earth.
After spending months flying through space, DART made its final approach a few hours ago, recording a series of images as it got closer and closer to its target at a speed of 22,000km/h.
Controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory waited with baited breath as they watched the final few images which showed the surface of Dimorphos getting closer and closer until the probe smashed headlong into the space rock, abruptly ending the signal.
While it is likely to be some time before NASA will be able to confirm exactly what effect the collision has had on the trajectory of Dimorphos, the mission has been hailed as a complete success and a demonstration that it is very possible indeed to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid.
If Dimorphos had in fact been a dangerous asteroid on a collision course with the Earth, this mission – or one very much like it – might have literally prevented the destruction of our civilization.
Source: BBC News | Comments (9)