NASA says DART spacecraft changed the orbit of asteroid Demorphos

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA said a spacecraft that crashed into a small asteroid millions of kilometers away managed to shift its orbit.

Two weeks ago, the space agency made an attempt to find out if a killer stone could be removed from the Earth’s path in the future.

“This mission shows that NASA is trying to be prepared for whatever the universe throws at us,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

On September 26, the DART spacecraft blasted through a crater in the asteroid Dimorphos, ejecting debris into space and creating a comet-like trail of dust and rubble several thousand kilometers long.

It took weeks of observations by telescopes from Chile and South Africa to determine how much the collision changed the trajectory of the 160-meter asteroid around its companion, a much larger cosmic body.

Before the collision, the satellite took 11 hours and 55 minutes to circle the parent asteroid. Scientists had hoped to cut the time to 10 minutes, but Nelson said the impact shortened the asteroid’s orbit by about 32 minutes.

Not a single asteroid has posed a threat to the Earth, and still does not, as they continue their movement around the Sun. That is why scientists chose them for the world’s first attempt to change the flight path of a celestial body.

“We’ve been imagining this for years, and it’s really exciting that this is finally a reality,” said NASA Program Scientist Tom Statler.

A spacecraft the size of a vending machine launched last year was destroyed in an asteroid impact . It took scientists two weeks to find out if the spacecraft could influence the trajectory of the cosmic body.


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