NASA DART Mission Crashes Into Asteroid, But How Will We Know It Succeeded

NASA DART Mission Crashes Into Asteroid, How Will We Know It Succeeded

NASA has written yet another chapter in the history of mankind and its exploration of the universe. In what was an incredible display of technology and precision, the space agency successfully crashed its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft into an asteroid. This will take NASA one step closer to its goal to deploy a planetary defense system.


The event was live streamed on the space agency’s YouTube channel and several other platforms, allowing viewers to watch the successful collision of the spacecraft and the asteroid Dimorphos.

Everything Went As Planned

NASA’s spacecraft crashed into the 530-feet-wide asteroid as part of a test mission that could one day be an important means to protect our planet against hazardous space objects hurtling toward Earth at high speed.

This 4,000-miles-per-second collision happened around 7 million miles away from our planet on September 26 and was recorded by a camera aboard the spacecraft. Scientists will now observe Dimorphos and measure its trajectory to check if the mission was actually able to alter the course of the asteroid.

How Will We Know It Succeeded?

If the mission has actually succeeded it will be a huge leap in planetary defense, giving mankind a great chance of avoiding the same fate as dinosaurs if a huge civilization-ending space rock is hurtling towards us.

To ensure the mission’s success, DART’s team at NASA’s JPL and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will examine the data gathered by observatories that were tracking the asteroid’s path. The team will be waiting for two months before coming up with “the full quantitative answer.”


“The majority of near-Earth objects have orbits that don’t bring them very close to Earth, and therefore pose no risk of impact, but a small fraction of them — called potentially hazardous asteroids — require more attention,” JPL noted. “These objects are defined as asteroids that are more than about 460 feet (140 meters) in size with orbits that bring them as close as within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit around the sun.”

What’s Next For NASA?

The DART mission marks the first time humans have tested an existing technology as a way to protect the planet from space rocks and comets that might come dangerously close in the coming years.

The DART mission was in the pipeline for a long time, and other space agencies were also involved in the process. The European Space Agency (ESA) is also developing a similar system, and it will come in the form of the Hera mission, expected to launch in 2024. The mission will target the same Dimorphos asteroid as a second part of the DART mission and will observe the impact site and study the asteroid.

The data gathered from the Hera mission will enable researchers to make this planetary defense system "a well-understood and repeatable deflection technique.”

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