Cape Canaveral: NASA on Tuesday said it had succeeded in deflecting an asteroid in a historic test of humanity's ability to stop an incoming cosmic object from devastating life on Earth.
The fridge-sized Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor deliberately smashed into the moonlet asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, pushing it into a smaller, faster orbit around its big brother Didymos, said NASA chief Bill Nelson.
"DART shortened the 11 hour 55 minute orbit to 11 hours and 23 minutes," he said.
Scientists had hoped to shave off 10 minutes but NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the impact altered the asteroid’s orbit by about 32 minutes.
“This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us,” Nelson said during a briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington.
Neither asteroid posed a threat to Earth — and still don’t as they continue their journey around the sun. That’s why scientists picked the pair for the world’s first attempt to alter the position of a celestial body.