Nasa’s asteroid-deflecting DART spacecraft successfully crashed into its target on Monday, 10 months after launch.
Testing the world’s first planetary defense system will determine how prepared we are to avoid a doomsday collision with Earth.
The cube-shaped “Impactor” vehicle, about the size of a vending machine with two rectangular solar arrays, flew into the asteroid Dimorphos, which was about the size of a football stadium, and destroyed itself at around 7:14 p.m. EDT (11:00 p.m GMT) at around 6.8 a.m. itself millions of miles (11 million km) from Earth.
The mission’s finale tested a spacecraft’s ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory using pure kinetic force, slamming into the object at high speeds to knock it astray just enough to knock our planet out of the way.
It will be the first time mankind has altered the motion of an asteroid or any other celestial body. Nasa has a live stream of the event which you can find at the top of our live blog below.
When the image of Dimorphos went from a faint spec to a speck of gray and then a real object in NASA’s Dart mission cameras, Elena Adams, Dart mission systems engineer at the Applied Physics Laboratory, breathed a sigh of relief.
“That was the defining moment,” said Dr. Adams told reporters at a post-mission press conference Monday night.
dr Adams and her colleagues at the APL control room in Laural, Maryland were largely able to stop and watch closely as Dart neared its target, the asteroid Dimorphos, just as the public were doing since the spacecraft was supposed to fly autonomously to its final destination in the last five minutes of his life.
“As we got closer to the asteroid, there was a lot of fear and joy because we saw that we were about to bring this asteroid into view for the first time,” said Dr. adams “We all kind of held our breath.”
Now that it’s over and successful, she’s “a little numb,” she said. “So many years of work are now complete.
dr Adams has been working on the darts mission for seven years.
But actually the mission is not over yet. In the coming days, weeks and months, scientists will begin to get back images and data from telescopes and radar that will help confirm whether Dart has successfully moved the orbit of the hit asteroid.
The mission’s final conclusion is indeed years away when the European Space Agency’s Hera mission visits Dimorphos in 2026 to see the impactor left behind by Dart, the first-ever planetary defense mission.
Jon KelveySep 27, 2022 1:32 am
Dart came within 17 yards of a bullseye
While it will require later analysis of images of the Dart spacecraft’s impact to know for sure, engineers at the Applied Physics Laboratory believe that Dart impacted within 17 meters of the dead center of the asteroid Dimorphos when the spacecraft at 7 p.m. Monday: 2 p.m. EDT hit the space rock.
Jon KelveySep 27, 2022 1:08 am
Dart Mission press conference
After a successful Dart mission that made history by slamming a spacecraft into an asteroid for the first time, representatives from Nasa and the Applied Physics Laboratory will hold a post-impact press conference at 8:00 p.m. EDT, which will be broadcast online on Nasa TV is available.
Jon KelveySep 27, 2022 12:59 am
Angela Stickle, head of the applied physics group at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Dart Impact Modeling, joined reporters immediately after the Dart spacecraft’s impact to cheer the successful mission and celebrate the absence of odd surprises .
“That wasn’t a donut!” She cried.
Stickle and other engineers had worried early Monday about the possibility that Dimorphos could turn out to be an odd shape that might have allowed Dart to fly through or around the space rock, despite being linked to its navigation system.
Jon KelveySep 27, 2022 12:57 am
At 7:14 p.m. ET, Nasa made history by ramming a spacecraft into an asteroid, marking the first time life on Earth altered the course of a celestial body.
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or Dart, crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos at 14,400 miles per hour to test whether the impact can alter the asteroid’s orbit. Just minutes early, Dimorphos was a faint gray speck in the Dart spacecraft’s camera, growing into a giant gray-scaled dragon egg littered with boulders as the spacecraft approached in the moments before impact.
NASA crashes a spacecraft into an asteroid in its first planetary defense mission
In Historic First, Nasa successfully crashes a spacecraft into an asteroid to change its orbit
Jon KelveySeptember 27, 2022 00:22
Five minutes to impact
Dart is now five minutes from impact with the asteroid Dimorphos, which can now be clearly seen in the live feed from the spacecraft’s navigation cameras. Dart is 1,100 miles from its final destination.
Jon KelveySeptember 27, 2022 00:10
Nasa is just moments away from hitting an asteroid with a spacecraft
If you just tune in, Nasa is minutes away from ramming a spacecraft into an asteroid at over 4 miles per second.
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or dart, will impact the small asteroid Dimorphos at 7:14 p.m. EDT. Launched in November 2021, Dart is set to test whether a spacecraft can alter the orbit of an asteroid, a technique that could one day save Earth from a threatening space rock.
Dimorphos isn’t a threat to Earth now, and won’t be after being hit by Dart, which is why Nasa chose the small asteroid for testing.
You can watch the effects on NASA TV.
Jon KelveySeptember 27, 2022 12:00 am
How big will Dart make a crater in Dimorphos?
Dart will hit the asteroid Dimorphos at 14,400 mph, which is pretty fast.
But it is not the fast, according to Angela Stickle, leader of Johns Hopkins’ Working Physics Laboratory Dart Impact Modeling Working Group.
“We’re not moving too fast on these hyperspeed space effects,” she told reporters on Monday. “We don’t expect darts to vaporize.”
The roughly 1,200-pound golf cart-sized dart flanked by two school bus-sized solar panels could, according to Dr. Stickle Leave a crater four to 20 meters wide on Dimorphos. It really depends on what Dimorphos is made of; The space rock could be anything from a lump of sand to a solid mass of rock.
Learning what an actual asteroid is made of and how it really responds to a mission like Dart is crucial to modeling the impact of a future Dart-like mission to deflect an actually threatening asteroid.
“There’s a lot we can do in a laboratory on Earth, but there aren’t any materials on Earth that simulate asteroids very well,” said Dr. Stickle.
Jon KelveySeptember 26, 2022 11:45 p.m
Dart has locked onto its target
According to Nasa, the Dart spacecraft has now captured its target, the asteroid Dimorphos.
Dart has been flying autonomously since shortly after 3 p.m. On Monday, SmartNav algorithms use the image of Didymos, Dimorphos’ larger, bright companion asteroid, to guide the spacecraft’s flight.
A few minutes before 6:30 p.m. EDT, less than an hour after Dart impacted Dimorphos at 14,400 miles per hour, the spacecraft achieved target lock.
The currently small and faint image of Dimorphos quickly grows larger as Dart nears its final target, and the space rock can fill the entire camera image in the final moments before signal is lost, a sign of a critical success for in this case the mission.
Jon KelveySeptember 26, 2022 11:32 p.m
How to find dimorphos in nasa live feed
Nasa is streaming the live feed from its Dart spacecraft’s navigation camera online on Nasa’s media channel and Nasa TV, downloading a new still image about every second.
Clearly visible in the center of the feed is a bright white dot, which is the asteroid Didymos.
Dimorphos, the small asteroid moon orbiting Didymos and Dart’s target, is more difficult to find.
To find Dimorphos, look at the white dot that is Didymos, then locate two o’clock if Didymos was a dial. Dimorphos can be seen very close to Didymos on the clock at this point, but is very, very faint compared to bright Didymos.
“We’re looking primarily at the light from Didymos,” Cristina Thomas, a planetary scientist at Northern Arizona University, told reporters at a press event Monday afternoon at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “Dimorphos is only about 4% of the light out of the system.”
Jon KelveySep 26, 2022 11:28 p.m
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