NASA’s DART Mission Successfully Re-Directs Asteroid and Gathers Valuable Data for Future Deflection Attempts

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was the first attempt to intentionally collide a spacecraft with an asteroid, in an effort to demonstrate a planetary defense technique.[0] On September 26, 2022, the DART spacecraft smashed into a small asteroid moon called Dimorphos, which orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos.[0] The collision altered the path of Dimorphos through space, shortening the time it takes to orbit another, larger asteroid by 33 minutes.[1]

The Hubble Space Telescope watched as debris blasted into space and twisted into a tail behind the asteroid, transforming Dimorphos into an active asteroid, similar to a comet but without the sublimating ice.[2] The collision also created a crater, which might be so large that it doesn’t look like a crater at all.[3]

NASA's goal was to alter Dimorphos’s orbit enough for astronomers to spot the changes, and they succeeded.[4] The mission also provided insights into planetary collisions that may have been common in the early solar system.[5]

The data gathered from this mission will help inform researchers how to potentially divert a threatening asteroid's path away from Earth, if ever necessary. This could include a really threatening asteroid, and the information gathered from DART will contribute towards modeling and planning future asteroid deflections.

In addition to large telescopes, light curves of Dimorphos’s changes in brightness and color were made possible by the 31 citizen scientists who are listed as coauthors on the paper.[6] This research is invaluable and will help guide future attempts at similar projects.

0. “How to survive a killer asteroid impact if a NASA deflecting mission fails” Daily Mail, 3 Mar. 2023,

1. “Astronomers still have their eyes on that asteroid NASA whacked” WBUR News, 4 Mar. 2023,

2. “Hubble Space Telescope captured ‘movie' of spacecraft slamming into asteroid” CNN, 1 Mar. 2023,

3. “NASA's DART Mission Changed the Course of Planetary Defense” Gizmodo, 1 Mar. 2023,

4. “3Q: What we learned from the asteroid-smashing DART mission” MIT News, 2 Mar. 2023,

5. “Humanity punched this asteroid! NASA shows how hard in numbers” HT Tech, 3 Mar. 2023,

6. “The Aftermath of DART, Humankind's First Planetary Defense Mission” Sky & Telescope, 1 Mar. 2023,

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