(WHNT) — Houston, we have… success! For the first time in history, humans have successfully altered the orbit of a celestial object in space.
According to a social media post made by NASA Asteroid Watch, data shows the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, mission’s impact with an asteroid named Dimorphos changed its orbit by 32 minutes. The success also marks NASA’s first full-scale demonstration of this technology.
The collision happened on September 26.
NASA said before DART’s impact, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit Didymos, its larger parent asteroid. Now Dimorphos’ orbit has shrunk to 11 hours and 23 minutes.
“This result is one important step toward understanding the full effect of DART’s impact with its target asteroid,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “As new data come in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way.”
NASA confirmed neither asteroid posed a threat to Earth before DART’s impact, nor do they now.
To learn more about the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and its importance in future missions, visit nasa.gov.