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Spacecraft deflects asteroid

The moon Dimorphos before impact

Nasa / Johns Hopkins APL

On September 26, at 8:14 p.m. Brasília time, a spacecraft slightly bigger than a refrigerator deliberately collided with Dimorphos, a moon just 160 meters in diameter that orbits the asteroid Didymos. The collision, which took place 11 million kilometers away from Earth, was intended to slightly alter the orbit of Dimorphos. The DART mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), planned by NASA, was a rehearsal for a potential catastrophic situation in the event that a space object is identified on a collision course with Earth. On October 11, NASA confirmed that the operation was even more successful than expected. The impact nudged Dimorphos slightly towards Didymos, altering its roughly 12-hour orbit around the asteroid. For NASA, a 73-second change in its orbit would represent a success. After the impact, its orbit was reduced by 32 minutes.