Skip to Content
Space

Watch the moment NASA’s DART spacecraft crashed into an asteroid

The project is the first time humanity has tested a planetary asteroid defense system.

September 27, 2022
NASA YouTube

NASA is celebrating the success of humanity’s first test of a planetary defense system: crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid in order to change its orbit. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or DART, was intentionally smashed into the asteroid Dimorphos at 7:14 p.m. US Eastern time last night, spelling the end to a successful 10-month mission.

A small camera mounted on DART livestreamed the spacecraft’s steady progress toward the 160-meter-wide asteroid, located about 6.8 million miles from Earth, back to controllers based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The team cheered as Dimorphos grew closer and closer, before the livestream cut out on impact with the asteroid.

The strike was “basically a bull’s-eye,” mission systems engineer Elena Adams said. You can watch the livestream for yourself to see the exact moment DART struck Dimorphos. And for a sense of scale, last year the collision was described by Tom Statler, DART’s program scientist, as a golf cart traveling at 15,000 miles an hour smashing into the side of a football stadium.

The mission, which was launched in November last year, demonstrates a way for humanity to protect itself from asteroids. While Dimorphos itself had not been on course to crash into Earth, the project demonstrates NASA’s ability to deflect similar asteroids in the future.

Researchers believe the crash could have shortened Dimorphos’s orbit by around 10 minutes, which is enough to make a significant difference to the path an asteroid travels. NASA administrator Bill Nelson called the mission an “unprecedented success for planetary defense.”

The next step is to study the asteroid using telescopes on Earth to confirm that DART’s impact altered the its orbit around a larger asteroid called Didymos.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

How a simple circuit could offer an alternative to energy-intensive GPUs

The creative new approach could lead to more energy-efficient machine-learning hardware.

This classic game is taking on climate change

What the New Energies edition of Catan says about climate technology today.

How battery-swap networks are preventing emergency blackouts

When an earthquake rocked Taiwan, hundreds of Gogoro’s battery-swap stations automatically stopped drawing electricity to stabilize the grid.

Apple is promising personalized AI in a private cloud. Here’s how that will work.

Apple’s first big salvo in the AI wars makes a bet that people will care about data privacy when automating tasks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.