NASA Aircraft Crashes Into Asteroid


Illustration of the collision from NASA.

Kale Cantu, Reporter

On Monday, September 26, 2022, A NASA spacecraft rammed into a massive asteroid lurking in the vicinity of Earth. This asteroid is still a safe 7 million miles away; however, its size is massive enough to cause some serious damage if it were to collide. 

The spacecraft that rammed into this gargantuan asteroid is named DART, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The asteroid, Dimorphus, was orbiting an even bigger rock, so NASA concluded that this would be a good test, for it would not knock Dimorphus off of its course towards earth. 

DART, the project that NASA invested so much in, was a simple design. DART was designed, not for strength, but speed. Instead of blowing the asteroid off course with some weapon, DART would ram itself at breakneck speed and destroy itself in the process as well as damaging and knocking the asteroid off of its course. On the day of the galactic impact, DART flew in space at 14,000 miles per hour and pummeled itself against Dimorphos. Keep in mind that DART was the size of a vending machine and had the mass of a cow. 

“Normally, losing signal from a spacecraft is a very bad thing. But in this case, it was the ideal outcome,” said NASA program scientist Tom Statler. 

Though the impact was visible from the earth, DART’S camera and radio feed were destroyed; so it would take a few months to determine how far the asteroid was knocked off its course. 

Scientists insisted that the asteroid would not shatter into pieces. DART’s mass was nothing compared to Dimorphos’s 11 billion pounds. DART’s anticipated crash into Dimorphos should only change the asteroid’s orbit by a meager 1%, they state that it might not sound like much, but it will affect the asteroid more in the future.