NASA crashes spacecraft into asteroid in world’s first planetary defense test

LAUREL, Md. — NASA crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid in the world’s first planetary defense test Monday evening.

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According to The Associated Press, the NASA spacecraft slammed into an asteroid that was harmless to see if it is possible to get killer space rocks out of the way of Earth.

The New York Times reported that DART, or NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, slammed into a small asteroid at more than 14,000 miles per hour. This asteroid was no threat to Earth, but the mission was a test of technology to see how it could protect the planet in the future.

The asteroid was named Dimorphos, according to the NYT. The impact on a global scale is very rare, about once every 10 million years. Policymakers didn’t have as much urgency in financing any efforts to help protect Earth from asteroids, but the NYT reported that Thomas Statler, a program scientist on the DART mission, said that it has started to shift because astronomers have found all the big asteroids that could destroy Earth.

Scientists anticipated that the impact would carve out a crater and hurl some rocks and dirt into space, with hopes of changing the asteroid’s orbit, said the AP.

On Twitter, NASA said that the impact was a success.

“The vending machine-sized spacecraft successfully collides with asteroid Dimorphos, which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth,” said NASA.

The AP reported that this mission cost about $325 million for the first attempt to shift the position of an asteroid or other objects in space.