NASA's asteroid that it crashed into changed shape into an oblong watermelon

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) featured a refrigerator-sized spacecraft into a stadium-sized asteroid, and its impact changed it forever.

1 minute & 16 seconds read time

In 2022, NASA launched a spacecraft at an asteroid to test if it was possible to deflect an asteroid should one ever be on a collision course with Earth. The test was deemed more than a success.

NASA's asteroid that it crashed into changed shape into an oblong watermelon 3662552

NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which was a refrigerator-sized spacecraft at a 560-foot-wide asteroid named Dimorphos. This asteroid orbits a larger near-Earth asteroid called Didymos, with the smaller of the two (Dimorphos) orbiting its larger companion at a distance of approximately 3,900 feet, or one full orbit taking 11 hours and 55 minutes to complete.

DART successfully hit at an extremely high speed, and shortened Dimphos' orbital period by 32 minutes and 42 seconds, reducing Dimorphos' full orbit around Didymos to 11 hours, 22 minutes and 37 seconds. NASA writes in new press release that cites a study published in the Planetary Science Journal, Dimorphos' orbit slowly reduced over the following weeks, eventually reducing its orbital distance to 3,780 feet, or by about 120 feet.

"When DART made impact, things got very interesting," said Shantanu Naidu, a navigation engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, who led the study. "Dimorphos' orbit is no longer circular: Its orbital period" - the time it takes to complete a single orbit - "is now 33 minutes and 15 seconds shorter. And the entire shape of the asteroid has changed, from a relatively symmetrical object to a 'triaxial ellipsoid' - something more like an oblong watermelon."

DART's impact changed Dimorphos forever, and have proven Earth has the capabilities of deflecting an asteroid should ever one line up with our planet.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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