It is a bull's eyes for DART! We did it! We hit an asteroid with a satellite!


A NASA spacecraft crashed with an asteroid in an unprecedented test intended to prevent potentially catastrophic collisions with Earth.

Approximately 11 million kilometres (6.8 million miles) from Earth, on Monday at 23:00 GMT, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft crashed with the asteroid Dimorphos.

The cube-shaped "impactor" spacecraft, little bigger than a vending machine with two rectangular solar arrays, careered into Dimorphos, an asteroid the size of a football stadium. The test was livestreamed from the mission operations centre outside of Washington, DC.

For DART, it is a bull's eye! It has become history. Humanity has created a method to block a cosmic threat for the first time. This test was a complete success, but more research and statistics are forthcoming.

As the target asteroid grew in size second by second and eventually covered the TV screen of NASA's live webcast, engineers in the control room could be heard cheering. This occurred just before the spacecraft's signal was lost, confirming it had hit with Dimorphos.

"Impact confirmed for the world's first planetary defence test mission," read a graphic on the live stream.

The goal of the project was to see if a spaceship could nudge an asteroid just far enough off track to keep Earth safe by using pure kinetic force to alter its trajectory.

Its success won't be known until the conclusion of more ground-based telescope measurements next month.

The mission coordination lead, Nancy Chabot, told Al Jazeera hours before the planned impact, "This is a tough test, and this is why we're taking these first steps now to create this technology before we need it."

The DART spacecraft was launched from California in the United States in November, and NASA flight directors have been in charge of it for the most of the journey.

There was a rush of exhilaration as the drone got closer to its destination.

Mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, United States, tweeted, "It's the final cosmic collision countdown."

Although the asteroid was not expected to collide with Earth, Monday's test represented the first attempt to change an asteroid's trajectory using only kinetic force. Scientists are hopeful that the technique can be used to nudge asteroids and prevent catastrophic disasters.

An asteroid "moonlet" that orbits Didymos, a five times larger asteroid, was the intended target.

The Didymos duo are ideal test subjects due to their size because smaller asteroids are more frequent and, thus, a greater threat in the near future, according to NASA scientists and planetary defence specialists.

They are the perfect candidates for DART's first proof-of-concept mission due to their close proximity to Earth and twin asteroid configuration.

However, the DART team feels that 73 seconds will be adequate to show that the technology can be used to deflect asteroids. The DART team plans to shorten Dimorphos' orbital trajectory by 10 minutes.

The project's estimated cost of $330 million is considerably lower than that of many of NASA's more expensive space missions.

The third of three NASA missions to study asteroids, stony remnants of the solar system's formation more than 4.5 billion years ago, is called DART.

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