(ORDO NEWS) — In late September, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft made a targeted impact with the 170-kilometer asteroid Dimorph, flying into it at a speed of 27,360 kilometers per hour.
After analyzing the data array, NASA announced the successful change in the trajectory of the space rock. This suggests that humanity is still likely to be able to save itself and its Earth from a possible catastrophic asteroid impact.
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“We all have a responsibility to protect our home planet,” said NASA Director Bill Nelson.
“After all, we have one common house.”
“This mission shows that NASA is committed to being ready for all the challenges that the Universe throws at us,” he added.
“NASA has proven that we are serious about protecting the planet .”
According to NASA, the data continues to come in and “the numbers look promising.” The fact is that the collision apparently shortened the time it took for Dimorph to make a complete revolution around its larger parent asteroid Didyma (diameter about 780 meters) by as much as 32 minutes.
This is a major success, considering that the wildest predictions indicated a reduction in the orbital period by 10 minutes.
“For the first time, humanity has changed the orbit of a cosmic body,” Lori Gleizes, director of NASA’s Planetary Exploration Division, told reporters.
A number of ground and space observatories, including NASA ‘s Hubble and James Webb telescopes , have been able to confirm that Dimorph has acquired a new trajectory.
Despite the resounding success, we still have much to learn about repelling possible asteroid threats to Earth, NASA officials warned.
“We should not be quick to claim that one test on one asteroid tells us exactly how any other asteroid will behave in a similar situation,” commented Tom Statler, DART mission scientist.
“But what we can do is use this test as a reference point for our physical calculations in our simulations, which will tell us how different asteroids should behave in different situations.”
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