The incredible NASA DART mission finally took place and the video will keep you on the edge of your seat.
In a mission that made scifi disaster movie fans tune in, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was designed as a world’s first planetary defense mission in which a spacecraft would be slammed into an incoming asteroid to deflect it of course.
Launched back on November 24, 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the DART spacecraft has now slammed into Dimorphos, a moonlet to the Didymos asteroid, hoping to change its orbital speed by a fraction of a percent.
And, at 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT) on Sept. 26, 2022, the collision happened, though millions of viewers were left gripping the edge of their seat as the video cut off right at the exact moment.
As NASA explains, the DART spacecraft streamed these images from its DRACO camera back to Earth in real time as it approached the asteroid.
To get an idea of the scale of things, Didymos in the top left of this image is roughly 2,500 feet (780 meters) in diameter; Dimorphos is about 525 feet (160 meters) in length.
While the replay was 10 times faster than reality, the last six messages of the DART spacecraft as it was about to slam into Didymos were shown at the same rate as they were received from the spacecraft.
Since the impact took out the camera, we’ll have to wait for an Italian Cubesat to pass by the damage done and see everything in detail. The Cubesat, called LICIACube, has been following DART for a few weeks and images from it are sure to follow soon.
Right now, this is the best we have:
It doesn’t look like there will be a sequel to Deep Impact anytime soon, though whoever made the Little Prince asteroid joke deserves an award for making everyone chuckle.