NASA Successfully Crashes Spacecraft into Asteroid in Defense Test

A NASA spacecraft collided head-on with an asteroid the size of a football stadium in an unprecedented test of NASA’s capacity to defend Earth from a doomsday scenario.

The multimillion-dollar spacecraft successfully crashed into the harmless asteroid Dimorphos 6.8 million miles from Earth. 

The mission, known as Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), marked humanity’s first attempt at moving another celestial body, with the goal of seeing if a large asteroid hurtling toward our planet could be successfully diverted.

Scientists expected the impact to carve out a crater, hurl streams of rocks and dirt into space and, most importantly, alter the asteroid’s orbit.

Whether the impact had enough force to move the asteroid remains to be seen. It is expected to take as long as a couple of months in order to determine how much the asteroid’s path was altered by the forced collision. Scientists will spend the next coming weeks monitoring the asteroid’s speed and movements. 

The spacecraft collided with the asteroid at 15,000 miles per hour at 7.14 pm EDT. 

The video shown on a live stream showed the asteroid’s rubble-strewn surface looming into focus before the spacecraft hit. It was immediately followed by cheers erupting in the mission control room. 

Shortly after impact, Nasa’s planetary science division director Lori Glaze declared the mission a “new era of humankind”.

Mission Control’s Elena Adams said as far as the team can tell, the first planetary defense test was a success. 

“I think Earthlings should sleep better. Definitely, I will,” Adams said. “We knew we were going to hit. All of us were holding our breath. I’m kind of surprised none of us passed out.”

Dart scored “basically a bullseye” on the asteroid.  Dart was launched in November 2021. 

Currently, there is no known asteroid larger than 459 feet in size with a significant chance of hitting Earth in the next century. But it is estimated that only 40 percent of those asteroids have been identified so far.

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