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NASA confirms DART mission changed asteroid's motion in space

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-10-12 08:00

This handout picture obtained by the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube shows the NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission just before its closest approach to the Dimorphos asteroid, on September 26, 2022. NASA's DART spaceship struck the moonlet asteroid Dimorphos, in a historic test of humanity's ability to prevent a cosmic object devastating life on Earth. [Photo/Agencies]

LOS ANGELES - NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission has successfully changed the orbit of the asteroid Dimorphos when the NASA spacecraft intentionally slammed into the space rock, the agency said on Tuesday.

This marked humanity's first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology, said NASA.

Prior to DART's impact, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger parent asteroid, Didymos.

Since DART's intentional collision with Dimorphos on Sept. 26, astronomers have been using telescopes on Earth to measure how much that time has changed.

Now, the investigation team has confirmed the spacecraft's impact altered Dimorphos' orbit around Didymos by 32 minutes, shortening the 11 hour and 55-minute orbit to 11 hours and 23 minutes, said NASA.

The DART mission aims to shift an asteroid's orbit through kinetic impact, in order to test and validate a method to protect Earth in case of an asteroid impact threat, according to NASA.

The DART spacecraft was launched on Nov. 24, 2021, and spent 10 months journeying to its asteroid target.

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