NASA Successfully Alters Orbit Of Massive Asteroid

NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben/Handout via REUTERS

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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NASA successfully diverted the orbit of an asteroid, according to an update from the agency released Tuesday.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe mission aimed to smash into its target asteroid, Dimorphos, and successfully change the asteroid’s orbit. The probe hit the asteroid Sept. 26, but NASA announced Oct. 11 the trajectory of Dimorphos had changed. This is the first time in known human history our species has purposely changed “the motion of a celestial object,” demonstrating the potential of Earth’s asteroid deflection technology, NASA noted.

“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in the press release. “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.” (RELATED: ‘Something Weird’ Is Happening In Space And Scientists Are Stumped)

Prior to being smashed with the DART probe, Dimorphos’ orbit around a larger asteroid, Didymos, took 11 hours and 55 minutes, NASA continued. After the collision, the altered orbit is now 11 hours and 23 minutes, with a margin of uncertainty of plus or minus 2 minutes.