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NASA successfully crashes spacecraft into asteroid

Picture Courtesy: NASA

NASA successfully slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid in humanity’s first test of planetary defense today. The impact occurred at 7:14 p.m. ET greeted by cheers from the mission team in Laurel, Maryland. The DART mission, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, launched 10 months ago.

The director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze, said, “We’re embarking on a new era of humankind, an era in which we potentially have the capability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous, hazardous asteroid impact. What an amazing thing. We’ve never had that capability before.”

One other goal of the spacecraft is to affect the motion of an asteroid in space, but DART team members say it will take about two months for scientists to determine if the asteroid’s orbit changed.

The asteroid system poses no threat to Earth, NASA officials have said, making it a perfect target to test out a kinetic impact – which may be needed if an asteroid is ever on track to hit Earth. The event was the agency’s first full-scale demonstration of deflection technology that can protect the planet.

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