NASA’s £300 million spacecraft collides with an asteroid at 15,000 mph, making history

NASA has successfully completed a mission that isn’t all that dissimilar from the scenario of the film Armageddon by ramming an incredibly expensive rocket into the side of an asteroid at a stunning rate of speed.

Just like the Movies

While that movie featured actors like Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, and Billy Bob Thornton, this specific rocket was only intended to prove that it could crash into an asteroid by slamming it head-on.

Dimorphos was the name of the asteroid in question, and it was idly floating through space.

Then, NASA made the decision to launch a rocket at it in a test known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) just to show that they could.

Again, if an asteroid that is a threat to mankind ever appears, we’ll all be thrilled with this kind of research and development, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too pessimistic.

Dimorphus is a member of an asteroid system that revolves around the asteroid Didymos once every 11 hours and 55 minutes.

The idea here is to reduce that orbit by 10 minutes, which will shatter the rocket into minuscule bits.

That demonstrates that launching a large rocket at such potentially disruptive celestial invaders can successfully divert them.

Rocket Science

Dart’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth, but it is the ideal testing ground to determine whether this asteroid deflection technique, also known as the kinetic impactor technique, would be an effective way to safeguard our planet in the event that an asteroid on a collision course with Earth was to be discovered in the future.

It was estimated that DART may have been moving at a speed of up to 15,000 mph at the time of the crash, which is certainly an absurdly high speed.

You can understand the distances we are referring to when we talk about “near earth” objects because the entire event is taking place approximately 11 million kilometres from Earth.

There are several of them, but they are still far away.

If you want to know, it’s about 27,000.

A small satellite that separated to capture the collision was launched with DART around 10 months ago.

Then, in 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch the Hera spacecraft.

Hera will proceed to the asteroid’s location in an effort to locate any information regarding the collision.

Dimorphos will have reached historic significance by the time Hera arrives at Didymos in 2026, the ESA said. It will be the first object in the Solar System whose orbit has been changed by human activity in a detectable way.

We have a lot of problems, and asteroids potentially hitting Earth is one of them.



, ,