Image of Impact Crater
Given the of the NASA DART probe’s impact on the asteroid Dimorphos, we must remember the stalwart work by the prime contractor on this mission, Acme corp.
The mission was intended to demonstrate the ability to alter the trajectory of a celestial object that might otherwise strike the earth. It is intended to serve as a demonstration and test bed for a system to deflect celestial objects that might threaten the earth:
A multimillion-dollar spacecraft collided head-on with an asteroid the size of a football stadium on Monday in an unprecedented test of Nasa’s capacity to defend Earth from a doomsday scenario.
Nasa’s craft successfully crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos 6.8m miles from Earth. The mission, known as Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), marked humanity’s first attempt at moving another celestial body, with the goal of seeing if a large asteroid hurtling toward our planet could be successfully diverted.
The spacecraft collided with the asteroid at 15,000mph at 7.14pm EDT. Live-streamed video showed the asteroid’s rubble-strewn surface looming into focus before the spacecraft hit and cheers erupted in the mission control room. Teams of Nasa and Johns Hopkins University scientists hugged each other as Dart’s successful impact with Dimorphos was confirmed.
Samson Reony, the Johns Hopkins applied physics laboratory mission commentator, was equally exuberant about the “game changing” achievement. “This is when science, engineering and a great purpose, planetary defense, come together, and, you know, it makes a magical moment like this,” he said.
The test aims to determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its trajectory. A relatively similar strategy involving a nuclear missile rather than an unmanned spacecraft failed during a key point in the plot of Morgan Freeman’s fictional 1998 planetary disaster film Deep Impact.
At a post-mission press conference, Dart scientists described the mission as a success but cautioned that it will be about two months before they know if the spacecraft succeeded in its ultimate objective of altering Dimorphos’s trajectory.
She said the craft had landed 17 meters from its target; close enough to represent a complete success. “It was basically a bullseye. I think, as far as we can tell, the first planetary defense test was a success, and we can clap to that.”