In the interest of ensuring humanity doesn’t follow the pathway of the dinosaurs, NASA engaged in a mission known as DART recently. The purpose of the DART mission was to determine if it was possible to change the trajectory of an asteroid to prevent it from impacting earth. The asteroid chosen wasn’t endangering earth and was selected only for testing. The pair of asteroids observed are named Didymos and Dimorphus. Didymous completed orbit around Dimorphus every 11 hours and 23 minutes. If NASA successfully affected the trajectory of Didymous, they expected it to alter the orbit by about 10 minutes. The effect that the impact had was that it altered the orbital period by 32 minutes. This makes for the first time that humans have altered the orbit of a celestial body.
The orbit was altered by impacting a space vehicle into the asteroid at a speed of 22,530 kilometers per hour. Of course this destroyed the spacecraft itself. Though the mission was successful, the observations are ongoing. In another 4 years, the ESA (European Space Agency) has a fly-by planned to collect more information.
In the event of a threatening asteroid, the expectation on how it will be altered is that if it is discovered early enough, that an impactor flying into it could alter its trajectory enough so that it is not a threat to life here on earth.
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