Nasa spacecraft rams asteroid, changes orbit in Earth defense test

Nasa says a mission to nudge a distant asteroid off course succeeded, showcasing a potential new method for saving Earth from dangerous space rocks that astronomers might identify in the future.
A Nasa spacecraft called DART, which rammed the asteroid last month, was able to alter the trajectory of its moving target, officials at the space agency said Tuesday.
“Nasa has proven that we are serious as a defender of the planet,” agency administrator Bill Nelson told reporters at a press conference.
The spacecraft, which is about the size of a refrigerator, slammed into an asteroid called Dimorphos at 14,000 miles per hour on September 26. Dimorphos, roughly the size of a football stadium, orbits around a larger asteroid called Didymos.
Prior to the impact, Dimorphos orbited Didymos roughly once every 11 hours and 55 minutes. After the impact, Nasa said the orbit is now 11 hours and 23 minutes — a 32 minute change, based on astronomy observations.
Dimorphos never posed a risk to Earth, but was merely a target asteroid to showcase this deflection technique.

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