Tonight, at 01:14 Europe time, a NASA probe crashed into an asteroid – and with full intention. The asteroid was the target of the DART mission. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test.
The aim of the mission was to change the orbit of the asteroid Dimorphos, which orbits the much larger asteroid Didymos. While these asteroids were not a threat to Earth, other asteroids could pose a huge problem for Earth and its inhabitants in the future.
So far, the scenario has mainly been known from disaster films such as »Armageddon« or »Don’t Look Up«. But the danger is real and could sweep an unprepared race of hairless apes from their spaceship of water and rock.
NASA announced their plan a few weeks ago with a trailer:
Almost like in a movie: NASA wants to crash a spaceship into an asteroid
DART mission writes human history on Twitch
The DART mission was humanity’s first attempt to counter such a menacing and apocalyptic scenario and could live be followed on Twitch.
The DART probe struck Dimorphos, 11.3 million kilometers away, at a speed of 22,500 kilometers per hour. Shortly before the impact, the surface of the asteroid was still visible and afterwards only the celebration of the NASA team, which was happy about the successful mission, was heard. You can watch the moment of impact again in this tweet.
link to Twitter content
Even if the surface of the asteroid “only” consisted of a rocky landscape, the researchers were fascinated by the sight. NASA Systems Engineer Elena Adams said the following:
“This asteroid came into our field of view for the first time, we really had no idea what to expect, but we knew we would hit it. So I think every one of us held our breath. I’m actually surprised none of us fainted.”
The successful impact alone was a huge achievement for the team. The next step will be to watch how Dimorphos progresses and see if the experiment really worked. So shortly after the impact, it is not yet possible to say whether the orbit was actually affected.
By the way, you can not only follow the universe on Twitch, but also listen to it. Musicians and researchers from NASA have transformed images from the James Webb Space Telescope into music and sounds. You can hear how they did it and what it sounds like here:
The universe sometimes sounds soothing – and sometimes frightening
Did you follow the spectacle live? What do you think of such advanced tech topics? Are you interested in news from space? Write it and feel free to comment!