The American space agency succeeded in diverting an asteroid from its trajectory by projecting a spacecraft against its surface at the end of September during an unprecedented test mission, which should allow humanity to learn how to protect itself from a possible future threat. , NASA announced Tuesday, October 11.
The Dart mission craft had deliberately rammed into its target, the asteroid Dimorphos, which is the satellite of a larger asteroid named Didymos. The NASA device managed to move it, reducing its orbit by 32 minutes, said the head of the space agency, Bill Nelson, during a press conference.
This is “a watershed moment for planetary defense, and a watershed moment for humanity”he greeted.
First mission to test such a technique
It would have already been “considered a huge success if it (the craft) had only reduced orbit by about 10 minutes. But he actually cut it by 32 minutes”, added the head of the space agency. With this assignment, “Nasa has proven that we are serious as defenders of the planet”he said.
Dimorphos, located some 11 million kilometers from Earth at the time of impact, is about 160 meters in diameter and poses no danger to our planet.
This unprecedented mission of “planetary defense”, named Dart (dart, in English), is the first to test such a technique. It allows NASA to train in case an asteroid threatens to hit Earth one day.