Final moments of NASA mission as spacecraft crash into asteroid

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor has achieved its goal

On Monday, a NASA spacecraft successfully crashed into an asteroid about 7 million miles (10.9 million kilometers) from Earth. The mission aimed at deflecting the asteroid’s orbit was successfully accomplished in a historic test of humanity’s ability to prevent a celestial body from destroying life on Earth.

NASA launched its DART spacecraft in November 2021 with the stated goal of colliding with a football stadium-sized asteroid at 24,000 miles per hour. “Just in case you’re keeping the score: humanity 1, asteroids 0,” Tahira Allen, a NASA spokesperson, said during the livestream after the impact.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor struck its target, the space rock Dimorphos, at 7:14 p.m. Eastern Time (2314 GMT), 10 months after launching from California on its pioneering mission.

DART’s Final Pre-Impact Images

“We are entering a new era, an era where we may have the opportunity to protect ourselves from something like a dangerously dangerous asteroid impact,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s division of planetary science.

Dimorphos — a 530-foot (160 meters) asteroid roughly comparable in size to an Egyptian pyramid — orbits a half-mile-long big brother named Didymos. Never seen before, the “moonlet” appeared as a speck of light about an hour before the collision, AFP reported.

Its egg-like shape and steep, boulder-dotted surface finally came into focus in the last few minutes, as DART raced toward it at about 23,500 kilometers per hour.

NASA scientists and engineers burst into applause as the screen froze on a final image, indicating that the signal had been lost and the impact had occurred.

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