NASA's DART mission was a success, throwing an asteroid off its path
NASA sent a spacecraft toward an asteroid that was millions of miles away from Earth and was able to throw the asteroid off its path.
NASA sent a spacecraft toward an asteroid that was millions of miles away from Earth with the intent of shifting its orbit — and the space agency announced on Tuesday that their mission was a success.
With the mission of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) being a success, NASA hopes that they will be able to use this method against any asteroid or comet that poses a real threat to Earth.
NASA tweeted a video of the director of NASA's planetary division at NASA Headquarters in Washington Lori Glaze. "Let's all just take a moment to soak this in," she said. "We're all here this afternoon because, for the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit of a planetary body."
"All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it's the only one we have," NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson said in a press release. "This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA's exceptional team and partners from around the world."
"This result is one important step toward understanding the full effect of DART's impact with its target asteroid," Glaze said. "New data comes in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way."
"DART has given us some fascinating data about both asteroid properties and the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor as a planetary defense technology," Nancy Chabot, the DART coordination lead from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. "The DART team is continuing to work on this rich database to fully understand this first planetary defense test of asteroid deflection."
Johns Hopkins APL built and operated the DART spacecraft and manages the DART mission for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency's Planetary Missions Program Office.
Some notable tweets congratulating NASA
United States Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted saying, "Congratulations to the team at NASA for successfully altering the orbit of an asteroid. The DART mission marks the first time humans have changed the motion of a celestial body in space, demonstrating technology that could one day be used to protect Earth."
Scientist and educator Bill Nye tweeted, "NASA guided DART into asteroid Dimorphos, at 14,000 mph, changing the orbit many minutes more than expected. We're celebrating here at @exploreplanets because a mission like this could save the world."