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Why did NASA Ram into an Asteroid?

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NASA’s mission to defend Earth from a doomsday scenario if it ever happens was put to test for the first time last Monday. A football stadium-sized asteroid was hit by a multimillion-dollar spacecraft. The spacecraft crashed into Dimorphos 6.8m miles away from Earth.

About mission DART

The mission is known as DART or Double Asteroid Redirection Test. It marked humanity’s attempt at moving another celestial body. The aim was to see if a large asteroid moving towards the direction of Earth could be diverted or not.

The craft crashed into the asteroid at 15000mph at 7.14 pm EDT. The live-streamed video displayed the rubble-strewn surface of the asteroid looming into focus before NASA’s spacecraft hit it. As soon as it happened, cheers erupted in the control room of the mission.

Watch this YouTube video:

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Scientist’s reactions

When Dart’s impact with Dimorphos was confirmed, teams of scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Nasa hugged each other. Soon after, NASA’s planetary science division director, Lori Glaze, exclaimed it to be a “new era of humankind”. She added, “[It’s] an era in which we potentially have the capability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous, hazardous asteroid impact.” Glaze further said, “What an amazing thing. We’ve never had that capability before.”

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“This is when science, engineering and a great purpose, planetary defense, come together, and, you know, it makes a magical moment like this,” said Johns Hopkins applied physics laboratory mission commentator, Samson Reony. He was equally excited about this ‘game-changing’ achievement as claimed by the director of the Johns Hopkins applied physics laboratory, Ralph Semmel. He commented, “Normally, losing signal from a spacecraft is a very bad thing. But in this case, it was the ideal outcome,” when the video blacked out.

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Awaiting final results

The test was aimed to determine whether or not intentionally crashing a craft into an asteroid could change its trajectory. DART scientists considered this to be a successful mission. However, they want to remain cautious until they could determine whether or not the spacecraft can alter the asteroid’s trajectory. They would be able to confirm in about two months.

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