NASA successfully smashed a spacecraft into an asteroid on Monday, in a test to see if current technology can divert the path of such objects that may one day threaten Earth.
The football-stadium sized asteroid did not a pose a danger, but the test, carried on CNN, Discovery and BBC World, was a milestone in planetary defense capabilities.
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test took place at 4:15 PM PT. Cheers were heard from a NASA control room in Laurel, MD as the spacecraft, the size of a vending machine, approached the asteroid Dimorphos and eventually went to a blank, rust-red screen.
“And we have impact … in the name of planetary defense” a NASA official said. Among those present: Bill Nye.
The spacecraft approached the asteroid at more than 14,000 miles per hour, and sent continuous images on its approach, providing dramatic footage that has in the past been the imagination of blockbuster filmmakers.
“What a moment. Very few words can capture the moment. This is beautiful to watch,” a NASA official said.
On CNN, as the spacecraft made its approach, correspondent Kristin Fisher noted “the detail that you can see. So those are rocks on the surface of Dimorphos.”
More to come.