Image Credit:

Image Credit:

On September 26th, 2022, over 11 months since its launch in 2021, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (abbreviated as DART) seems to have proven itself a success. The test, organized and launched by NASA, was concocted in order to see whether or not a spacecraft could change the trajectory of an asteroid. This method, if successful, could theoretically be used to defend Earth against extraterrestrial objects that might collide with the planet otherwise.

Prior to the test, Dimorphos, which is in a binary asteroid system with another asteroid known as Didymos, completed an orbit around Didymos approximately every 11 hours and 55 minutes. After colliding with the spacecraft sent by NASA, its orbit seemed to have sped up by 32 minutes, making its current speed 11 hours and 23 minutes per orbit. Further information on its new course is still being gathered.

Though that doesn’t sound like a massive advancement, this is the first time a spacecraft collision with an asteroid or another naturally occurring celestial body has intentionally changed its trajectory. Earth will likely not be encountering an extraterrestrial threat anytime soon (at least we can only hope). However, considering we only have one planet, perhaps it’s better to err on the side of caution. 

A complete summary of the mission can be found here, on NASA’s website.