Sep 28, 2022
NASA scientists slammed an unmanned spacecraft into an asteroid Monday night. Their $330 million craft was completely destroyed.
Believe it or not, that was NASA’s goal.
The so-called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission began as an effort to figure out if humans could prevent an object in space from hitting Earth. The mission was not based on any known threat. DART team member Angela Stickle told Science News: “We don’t know of any large asteroids that would be considered a threat to Earth ... any time in the next century. The reason that we are doing something like DART is because there are asteroids that we haven’t discovered yet.”
DART’s journey started 10 months ago. NASA launched it at Dimorphos, a small asteroid that orbits a much larger rock. After that, DART shot through space at 14,000 mph. It traveled nearly 7 million miles before crashing into Dimorphos on Monday. Over the next several days, NASA hopes to collect data on how much the collision changed the space rock's path. They’ll use that data to make plans for future threats. For now, though, scientists are celebrating DART’s impact.
“I was absolutely elated ... just realizing all the science that we’re going to learn,” said NASA's Pam Melroy.
Image and Photo from NASA.
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