NASA’s DART Mission Successfully Redirects Asteroid, Demonstrates Ability to Protect Earth

NASA’s daring planetary defence mission, Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), was a smashing success. The spacecraft smashed into an asteroid, altering its trajectory through space. Scientists have released their analysis of the mission and its aftermath, and the results are remarkable.

The DART spacecraft targeted a harmless asteroid, the Dimorphos, 6.8 million miles from Earth. Scientists observed the impact with several telescopes and discovered that the impact shortened Dimorphos’ orbit by about 33 minutes, more than 25 times the minimum benchmark for mission success.[0] At the same time, the impact liberated debris, forming a tail stretching more than 1,500 kilometers.[1] The team observed the tail with the Hubble Space Telescope for about three weeks and found that its morphology is similar to “active asteroids” – asteroids with an asteroid-like orbit and comet-like tail.[1] It appears that impacts can serve as a catalyst for asteroids.[2]

Cheng, A.F., et al., “activate” Nature (2023).[3] 10.1038/s41586-[4]

The authors of the study concluded that “the resulting change in Dimorphos's orbit demonstrates that kinetic impactor technology is a viable technique to potentially defend Earth if necessary.”[5] This means that it is possible for humans to use force to alter an asteroid’s orbit to protect Earth from an impact.[6]

Launching in October 2024, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will return to the Didymos-Dimorphos system to build upon the findings of the DART experiment.[7] The resultant crater is of particular interest.[6] Cheng suggested that the crater could potentially be so vast that it may not even resemble a crater; the DART could have removed a substantial piece of the impacted side.[6] Hera will investigate this and other questions.[6]

The Hubble Space Telescope captured the aftermath of the collision and revealed how the collision had turned Dimorphos into an “active asteroid,” a space rock that orbits like an asteroid but has a tail of material like a comet.[8]

NASA's DART mission has demonstrated our capacity to safeguard Earth from the danger of hazardous asteroids for the first time.[9]

0. “Astronomers still have their eyes on that asteroid NASA whacked” Oregon Public Broadcasting, 4 Mar. 2023,

1. “3Q: What we learned from the asteroid-smashing DART mission” MIT News, 2 Mar. 2023,

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

3. “Humanity Officially Has a Viable Defence Against Killer Asteroids, NASA Confirms” VICE, 1 Mar. 2023,

4. “New NASA DART data prove viability of asteroid deflection as planetary defense strategy”, 1 Mar. 2023,

5. “Earth may now have viable defence against planet-killing asteroids, NASA says” Global News, 3 Mar. 2023,

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

7. “DART's epic asteroid crash: What NASA has learned 5 months later”, 1 Mar. 2023,

8. “NASA confirms humanity can deflect killer asteroids with rockets — but only if we have years to prepare”, 2 Mar. 2023,

9. “NASA's asteroid deflection test shaved 33 minutes off the rock's orbit” Daily Mail, 1 Mar. 2023,

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments