Just after 7pm (EDT) on Monday, 26 September, a NASA spacecraft collided head first into the Dimorphos asteroid, the space agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.
The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft had been travelling for 10 months in space before it crashed into the asteroid, located 10.9 million miles from Earth.
Incredible images taken from the spacecraft show it colliding straight into the rocky asteroid at a speed of 22,530 kilometres per hour, hitting just 17 metres from its intended target.
Did you catch the #DARTMission stream live or Didymos it? Impact is over, but the research continues. As scientists delve into data and telescopes release images of the asteroid from their POV, follow @AsteroidWatch and @NASASolarSystem for updates. https://t.co/ZNEYDQVA8Y pic.twitter.com/dn2veS6zbG
— NASA (@NASA) September 27, 2022
“At its core, DART represents an unprecedented success for planetary defense, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”
The mission provides a key tool in the effort to protect Earth from the potential devastating impact by an asteroid, says NASA Planetary Defence Officer, Lindley Johnson. “This demonstrates we are no longer powerless to prevent this type of natural disaster.”
A global team will be observing the asteroid with telescopes to see if the spacecraft provided enough force to alter its trajectory.