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Asteroid mission MORE successful than NASA’s wildest dreams

DART mission was more successful than even NASA expected.

With its asteroid mission, NASA boldly stepped into an area never before entered by a human agency. Not only that, in a major triumph, this is also the first time humans have managed to alter the motion of an important object in the solar system. Yes, we are talking about NASA’s asteroid mission known as DART. The spacecraft that hit the asteroid was about the size of an automaton. The asteroid target was called Dimorphos. In fact, the attack changed Dimorphos’ orbit around its larger companion asteroid Didymos by about 32 minutes. The test on September 26 shows the potential to protect Earth from a possible asteroid attack.

A good note, NASA says the degree of deflection was greater than expected. According to the space agency, an orbital reduction of at least 73 seconds would be considered a success. After 32 minutes, however, the result of the test came as a pleasant surprise. “We are absolutely thrilled. This really shows that kinetic impact is a viable option for planetary defense,” said Cristina Thomas, a planetary scientist at Northern Arizona University. He led the observation team for the DART mission.

However, there are two main reasons for choosing this binary asteroid system for the DART mission. First, the asteroid pair was not on course to hit Earth, but the 780-meter-wide Didymos served as a gravitational anchor while keeping its partner asteroid Dimorphos from bouncing back to Earth. And the second is the combination of space rocks locked in orbit. This helped scientists measure the angle of deflection of the asteroid towards its partner.

This marked a new journey

Asteroids can be deadly to Earth. We all know a huge Chicxulub asteroid that hit Earth about 66 million years ago, ending the age of the dinosaurs. But this isn’t the only asteroid to hit Earth so far. The Vredefort asteroid is the largest to date to hit Earth about 2 billion years ago. The report says the early data from the DART mission confirmed it introduced a new ability to defend our Earth, if not the large, but relatively small asteroids.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our home planet. This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us,” science.org report quoted NASA administrator Bill Nelson as saying.

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