The spacecraft that NASA deliberately crashed into an asteroid last month managed to move it out of its natural orbit, altering the movement of a celestial body for the first time in history, the head of the organization announced on Tuesday.
"This is a defining moment for planetary defense and a defining moment for humanity," NASA chief Bill Nelson told reporters.
The results of the telescope observations revealed at a NASA briefing showed that the DART spacecraft's test flight on September 26 achieved its primary goal: changing an asteroid's direction through kinetic force.
The target of the DART flight was an egg-shaped asteroid called Dimorphos, about the size of a football stadium, which orbited a five times larger parent asteroid called Didymos once every 11 hours and 55 minutes.
Comparison of pre- and post-impact astronomical measurements of Dimorphos's orbit around Didymos showed a 32-minute shortening of its trajectory, demonstrating that the exercise is a viable technique for deflecting an asteroid from a collision course with Earth. Land.
Neither of the two asteroids involved in the test posed a threat to Earth, NASA scientists said.