The US space agency in late September succeeded in diverting a spacecraft from its path during an unprecedented test mission against its surface, which will allow humanity to learn how to protect itself from future threats. tuesday
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The Dart mission craft intentionally crashed into its target, the asteroid Dimorphos, a satellite of the larger asteroid Didymos. The NASA device was able to move it, shortening its orbit by 32 minutes, the space agency’s president, Bill Nelson, said during a press conference.
This is a “watershed moment for planetary security, and a watershed moment for humanity,” he said.
If it (the spacecraft) had reduced the orbit by only about 10 minutes it would already have been “considered a huge success. But he actually reduced it by 32 minutes,” he added. With this mission, “NASA has proven that we are serious about being guardians of the planet,” he said.
Dimorphos, located about 11 million kilometers from Earth at the time of impact, has a diameter of about 160 meters and poses no danger to our planet.
If the target is relatively modest compared to the cataclysmic scenes of science fiction films such as “Armageddon”, this unprecedented “planetary protection” mission, named Dart (in English Dart), was the first to test such a technique. This allows NASA to train in case an asteroid threatens to one day hit Earth.