This past Tuesday, NASA released a report stating that according to recently received data gathered from the recent test in which the group intentionally slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid, it was entirely successful in altering the path of the asteroid and was the first time in history that mankind has forcibly changed the path of a celestial object.
The results from the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) investigation from NASA were an important development from a purely defensive viewpoint because the test was a piece of NASA’s creation of asteroid deflection tech that could be utilized in the protection of Earth.
In a release, NASA went on to explain what the overall mission was, the metrics that were utilized to mark a mission success, and the results:
Prior to DART’s impact, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger parent asteroid, Didymos. Since DART’s intentional collision with Dimorphos on Sept. 26, astronomers have been using telescopes on Earth to measure how much that time has changed. Now, the investigation team has confirmed the spacecraft’s impact altered Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos by 32 minutes, shortening the 11 hour and 55-minute orbit to 11 hours and 23 minutes. This measurement has a margin of uncertainty of approximately plus or minus 2 minutes.
Before its encounter, NASA had defined a minimum successful orbit period change of Dimorphos as change of 73 seconds or more. This early data show DART surpassed this minimum benchmark by more than 25 times.
“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have,” stated Bill Nelson, a NASA Administrator. “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.”
The director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Lori Glaze, stated that the overall result was a very important step in the overall understanding of how this new defensive asteroid deflection technology could be used in the future.
“As new data come 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,” she stated.
“DART has given us some fascinating data about both asteroid properties and the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor as a planetary defense technology,” explained Nancy Chabot, the DART coordination lead coming out of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. “The DART team is continuing to work on this rich dataset to fully understand this first planetary defense test of asteroid deflection.”