Asteroid NASA Hit In Diversion Mission Is Acting So Mysteriously, An Investigation Was Launched

(Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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An asteroid hit during NASA’s successful DART mission in Sept. 2022 is acting mysteriously, and it’s not clear why.

Back in 2022, NASA tested their DART mission to see if we’re capable of altering the trajectory of an asteroid. To do so, NASA crashed a probe into the target, Dimorphos, and successfully changed its trajectory. Dimorphos’s orbit around the larger asteroid, Didymos, was shortened by 33 minutes within weeks of the impact.

But then, something else started happening. High school teacher Jonathan Swift at California’s Thatcher School and his students used an observatory at the institution to keep track of Dimorphos, and found its orbit and trajectory were changing rather rapidly, according to New Scientist.

“The number we got was slightly larger, a change of 34 minutes,” Swift said of the mysterious change in orbit. “That was inconsistent at an uncomfortable level.” (RELATED: Dear Kay: I Watched ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ And Now I’m Scared We’re Going To Die Before 2025)

Swift and his students presented their research at the American Astronomical Society’s New Mexico meeting in June, and received a very positive response. Nancy Chabot, a coordination lead for the DART at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, said her team continued to observe and investigate Dimorphos after the mission, and will publish its own results in the coming weeks.