No, this is not the plot line of a Hollywood blockbuster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
NASA just deliberately slammed a spacecraft, going 13,421 miles per hour, into an asteroid 6.8 million miles up in the sky (that’s 28 times the distance of the moon to the Earth).
You can watch it all here.
This is all part of NASA’s $300 million Double Asteroid Redirection System Test (DART). Asteroid collision is a very real threat to humanity, and NASA wants to experiment with ways to re-direct any asteroid that might be hurtling towards Earth in the future.
Astronomers chose an asteroid named Dimorphos as their target. Dimorphos, which is about the size of the Washington monument, is no direct threat to Earth. But it’s about the same size as asteroids that could endanger the planet. DART’s mission is to deflect the asteroid off its course so that if it were actually heading towards Earth, it would miss its target.
In the “fishbowl” watching for #DART to impact Dimorphos and give it a nudge! pic.twitter.com/ubMjxQAnG9
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) September 26, 2022
How Did the DART Mission Go?
The DART spacecraft made impact with Dimporphos today at 7:15 pm ET.
Unlike movies such as Armageddon, in which NASA nuked an asteroid to smithereens, the DART mission featured no mind-boggling explosions but rather the image of a tiny grey speck in the sky coming into focus as the spacecraft moved closer to Dimorphos.
The final image from the spacecraft’s cockpit showed Dimorphos covered with boulders, and then the live feed disappeared as the spacecraft divebombed into the asteroid.
NASA will review images and data over the next few days to see if the experiment worked in moving Dimorphos. But for now, they are celebrating the mission, which has been in the works since 2015, as a smashing success.