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NASA has successfully hit a space rock at high speed. The collision alters the path of the space rock, but exactly what remains to be seen in the near future.
NASA is investigating whether such a maneuver could alter the course of an asteroid threatening to strike Earth.
“It was very exciting,” said Michel van Pelt of the European Space Agency (ESA). “Everyone knows what the intention is, but whether it will work is still exciting. I’ve also seen that the crew just stood up for the last five minutes and couldn’t do anything else.”
In the end, the collision happened as planned, exactly at 01:14 AM Dutch time.
“Now the science begins,” NASA’s Lori Glaze said after it became clear that the rock had collided. “Now we’ll really see how effective we are.”
NASA was very pleased with the mission and also with the images of the impact:
NASA hits a space rock with a ‘refrigerator-sized’ probe
It is the first time that it has been tested whether Earth can be defended in this way. DART, which stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, was launched in November 2021. DART collided at about 20,000 kilometers per hour. The combined experiment cost $325 million.
According to the scientists, “we” are on schedule for the test. It is estimated that the risk of a very large impact on Earth is not currently significant. Of all the asteroids orbiting the sun close to Earth, not one larger than 140 meters will strike in the next century. NASA notes that we don’t yet know half of all asteroids, and that smaller rocks can also cause significant damage.
The European Space Agency (ESA) will send a probe to the space rock within two years to assess the damage more accurately. “It’s arriving at the exact same place,” says Van Pelt of the European Space Agency, who is involved in that mission. “This probe will then be able to see exactly what happened up close, like things you can’t see from Earth. For example, the amount of material that was released from the rock.”
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