Google marks Nasa Dart asteroid crash with animated Doodle

It pays homage to the space agency's Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission

Nasa's Dart satellite whizzing across the screen as part of Google's Doodle to commemorate the mission. Photo: Google
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If you search for "Nasa Dart" in Google right now, you'll see an animated version of Nasa's Dart spacecraft crash into an asteroid and set the whole search page at a tilt.

It marks the moment the space agency's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (if you type these words in the search bar, you'll also see the animation) mission successfully made impact with an asteroid on Monday evening.

The spaceship, launched from California last November, struck it at about 22,500 kilometres an hour.

The mission's aim was to hit Dimorphos off course while it orbits another asteroid. It was a key test of our ability to stop cosmic objects from devastating life on Earth.

The last image to contain a complete view of asteroid Didymos (top left) and its moonlet, Dimorphos, about 2.5 minutes before the impact of Nasa’s Dart spacecraft, taken by the on board Draco imager from a distance of 920 kilometers, and released September 26, 2022. Reuters

Neither the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, nor the big brother it orbits, called Didymos, pose any threat as the pair loop the Sun, passing about 11 million kilometres from Earth at their nearest approach.

But Nasa deemed the experiment important to carry out before an actual need is discovered.

By striking Dimorphos head on, Nasa hopes to push it into a smaller orbit, shaving 10 minutes off the time it takes to encircle Didymos — currently 11 hours and 55 minutes — in a change that will be detected by ground telescopes in the days or weeks to come.

Google often marks major human achievements, events and historical milestones with its Doodles, often visible in certain territories, although this new animation appears to be available on screens across the world.

In the region, the search engine has paid homage to several Arab stars on significant anniversaries, using Mena artists to bring them to life.

In June, for example, the life of doctor Saniya Habboub was celebrated, commemorating her graduation from medical school on June 10, 1931.

Born in 1901 to a Lebanese leather merchant and Turkish mother, Habboub was one of the first female doctors from Lebanon to study medicine abroad, in the US.

Scroll through the gallery below some of Google's regional Doodles

Updated: September 27, 2022, 4:51 AM