Two weeks ago, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) hit the tiny asteroid Dimorphos, with the goal of changing its orbital trajectory to see if we can indeed use a rocket to deflect asteroids. NASA’s press release yesterday confirms that they indeed managed to do this, after their team analyzed the data they’ve obtained thus far.
Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid, Didymos, and before DART exploded into it, it took 11 hours and 55 minutes to make a full orbit. Now, observers on Earth have noticed that time has changed after DART’s impact; the orbit has shortened by 32 minutes, and now Dimorphos takes 11 hours and 23 minutes to orbit its parent asteroid.
Well done, NASA. Hopefully they can continue to improve this technology so that if any planet-killing asteroids comes our way, we’re ready with a better plan than sending up Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.