Elon Musk has lauded NASA's spacecraft successfully crashing into an asteroid with a meme of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, wherein, Will Smith is NASA and Chris Rock – the asteroid.
DART – the Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft – collided with the 11 billion pound, 520 foot long asteroid Dimorphos at 14,000 mph, about 7 million miles from Earth. Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, said a lot of innovation and creativity went into the mission. He believes this will teach them to protect their own planet from an incoming asteroid. "We are showing that planetary defense is a global endeavour and it is very possible to save our planet." However, NASA doesn't know what happens after the collision. Elena Adams, mission systems engineer, highlighted that some things will likely come out in even days, may be weeks. It may also take a couple of months.
Goal Was To Shift Orbit
NASA's goal was not to destroy the asteroid but to shift its orbit around Didymos enough that it changes both of their trajectories. It should be noted that Dimorphos completes an orbit around Didymos in 11 hours and 55 minutes, as such the American space agency hopes the collision shortens its orbit by 10 minutes. The Dimorphos asteroid is roughly the same size as an Egyptian pyramid. It appeared as a speck of light around an hour before the collision.
More Dimorphos-like Asteroids
According to NASA, there are nearly 30,000 near-Earth objects in the solar system and they come within 120.8 million miles of Earth. Moreover, there are more than 10,000 near-Earth objects about the same size as Dimorphos. Experts say multiple impactors might be needed for big space rocks, or a combination of impactors and so-called gravity tractors (not yet invented) that would use their own gravity to pull an asteroid into a safer orbit.