This is my update on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — DART.
What am I talking about now? NASA launched a spacecraft in November 2021, and on September 26, 2022, they expected it to crash into the smaller of two orbiting asteroids. The location was seven million miles from earth, and as I said, that meeting had been ten months in the making. The purpose was what the name implies, to determine if an asteroid’s path can be redirected.
As with everything, this became all about me. I grew unreasonably enthusiastic at the prospect of witnessing history, and a big explosion. As I stated in my post dated 9/27, I expected the experience to rival Star Wars.
My dismay had nothing to do with the results of the mission. The satellite crashed into the small rock. Okay, an asteroid. ‘Twas a smashing success in that it hit its target. All the people on NASA TV (at Mission Control) who were dressed like Best Buy employees rejoiced. Yay earth, maybe. We’ll let you know what happens.
As far as entertainment value for me, it was a colossal fail, with a giant F. The camera stopped filming on impact. (Because, impact.) There was no explosion to be seen on NASA TV, and we wouldn’t know if they redirected the asteroid — for weeks!
Why does it matter? 66 million years ago, an asteroid, about ten kilometers (six miles) in width, struck Earth. The impact created a crater estimated to be 180 kilometers (ca. 112 miles) in diameter and 20 kilometers (ca. 12 miles) in depth, causing earthquakes, tsunamis, firestorms, fried dinosaurs, possibly milkshakes, then ended with the ice-age.
The results are in! And after analyzing data obtained over the past two weeks, NASA’s investigative team has concluded that “the kinetic impact of the spacecraft with its target asteroid, Dimorphos, successfully altered the asteroid’s trajectory.”
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was triumphant in redirecting the asteroid’s orbit.
This means two things:
1. If an asteroid were to speed toward earth, at a terminal velocity, a satellite could change its course and save us. Research continues. (If only the dinosaurs had thought of this.)
2. For those people, (maybe like me,) who have been using the “well, an asteroid could hit at any time, so I’m not doing that,” excuse, NASA calls bullshit. Get on with it.
And to us, I offer a limerick.
An asteroid could destroy earth
We’ll be dead soon, what’s it all worth?
Hard work, no such point?
So, pass me that joint.
(Oh hell no. NASA did what now?)
Hope lives… to marry Colin Firth!
*I do not partake in recreational drugs. It was creative license. I also don’t judge.