Nasa's Dart mission to deflect asteroid is a success

Operation proves that protecting the planet with spacecraft could be helpful in the future

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The US space agency Nasa on Tuesday said that its mission to ram a spacecraft into an asteroid had successfully shifted the rock's trajectory, proving that such measures could protect Earth from space threats.

"For the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit of a planetary object," said Lori Glaze, director of Nasa's planetary science division.

The spacecraft, called Dart, crashed into the asteroid in late September and was able to change the trajectory of its target, officials at the space agency said.

“Nasa has proven that we are serious as a defender of the planet,” Nasa administrator Bill Nelson said.

“This mission shows that Nasa is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us."

The spacecraft, which was about the size of a refrigerator, slammed into an asteroid called Dimorphos at 22,500kph on September 26.

Dimorphos, which is about the size of a football stadium, orbits around a larger asteroid called Didymos.

It did not pose a risk to Earth, but was a target asteroid to display the deflection technique.

Before the impact, Dimorphos orbited Didymos about once every 11 hours and 55 minutes.

Nasa said the orbit is now 11 hours and 23 minutes — a 32-minute change, based on astronomic observations.

News agencies contributed to this report

Updated: October 12, 2022, 6:14 AM