NASA successfully performed an asteroid collision with its DART mission spacecraft. However, there is a catch.
NASA today remade Armageddon, one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, by attempting to divert an asteroid from its course using its amazing technology in the form of its spacecraft. Bruce Willis’ protagonist had portrayed what would happen if an asteroid threatens to hit Earth and how nuclear weapons were used. Using its DART mission, NASA successfully crashed its spacecraft onto Asteroid Dimorphos to attempt to deflect it from its course. However, there is a catch. Although the asteroid collision was successful, it is not yet clear whether the asteroid actually deflected. For that, we have to wait the coming weeks and check the data. Those orbits have been given to a number of other technologically powerful spacecraft sent to track the asteroid, including by the European Space Agency.
NASA’s Double Asteroid Detection Test, or DART, is a $330 million mission to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to deflect it off its course. The DART team had already sent the main spacecraft to space in November 2021. It contains a satellite created by the Italian space agency. Another spacecraft will be launched by 2026 to measure the impact.
The DART spacecraft collided with its target asteroid called Dimorphos in the early hours, sacrificing itself for the good of humanity. While the asteroid posed no threat to Earth, this is the world’s first test of the kinetic impact technique, which uses a spacecraft to deflect an asteroid for planetary defense. Dimorphos is part of a twin asteroid system that includes a larger asteroid Didymos that is 5 times the size of Dimorphos.
NASA DART test was captured by a small companion satellite that tracked the DART spacecraft to the target asteroid Dimorphos. The spacecraft’s camera is a cubeSAT called LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids). The cubeSAT consists of two major components, LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) and LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid), both of which capture important data from the collision.
Aftermath of the collision
The European Space Agency’s Hera spacecraft will observe the impact caused by the collision of the DART spacecraft and the Dimorphos asteroid. The space agency has already launched its Hera spacecraft that will travel to the same asteroid to observe the impact. According to ESA’s blog, the Hera spacecraft will fly to the asteroid to investigate the aftermath of the impact and collect information such as the size of the impact crater, the mass of the asteroid and its composition and internal structure.