No, this isn’t the storyline of a Hollywood blockbuster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
NASA just deliberately smashed a spacecraft traveling at 13,421 miles per hour into an asteroid 6.8 million miles high in the sky (that’s 28 times the distance from the moon to Earth).
You can view it all here.
This is all part of NASA’s $300 million Double Asteroid Redirection System Test (DART). Asteroid collision is a very real threat to humanity, and NASA wants to experiment with ways to reroute any asteroid that could hurtle toward Earth in the future.
Astronomers chose an asteroid called Dimorphos as their target. Dimorphos, which is about the size of the Washington monument, poses no direct threat to Earth. But it is about the same size as asteroids that could endanger the planet. DART’s mission is to deflect the asteroid from its course so that if it actually went to Earth, it would miss its target.
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) September 26, 2022
How did the DART mission go?
The DART spacecraft collided with Dimporphos at 7:15 p.m. ET today.
Unlike movies like Armageddon, in which NASA shattered an asteroid, the DART mission didn’t show mind-blowing explosions, but rather the image of a tiny gray speck in the sky that came into view as the spacecraft got closer to Dimorphos.
The final image from the spacecraft’s cockpit showed Dimorphos covered in boulders, then the live feed disappeared as the spacecraft plunged into the asteroid.
NASA will review images and data in the coming days to see if the experiment worked in moving Dimorphos. But for now, they’re celebrating the mission, which has been in the works since 2015, as a resounding success.