By Buddy Blouin
A major impact event from an asteroid isn’t something that happens very often. For that, we as the human race should be thankful. NASA acknowledges that while such an event isn’t super likely to happen, it’s still a realistic possibility and something worth monitoring. An asteroid in 2022 known as Dimorphos was struck by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) in the first attempt to redirect an asteroid in the hopes of using the method if and when needed to protect the Earth.

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Will an Asteroid Hit Earth in 2022?

The Earth had a relatively close call with an asteroid in 2022 on August 4, but it appears that no major threat of an impact event will occur this year. This is good because should it ever become the case, it would be a much more credible threat to the end of the world than any random person on the street has attempted to predict in our lifetimes. Despite Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos posing no threat to Earth, the U.S. crashed a spacecraft into Didymos in an attempt to change its course. Known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), this mission from NASA was aimed at attempting a planetary defense technique to be used in the event that an impact event were to threaten Earth.

How Does NASA DART Work?

The NASA DART asteroid spacecraft launched In November 2021 from Earth to begin its mission. The idea is to impact an asteroid and change its orbit so that its trajectory could be influenced by the force of the impact. The DART mission NASA created was able to happen thanks to many collaborators both stateside and internationally. While the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) did much of the heavy lifting, here are some of the other collaborators that helped in tremendous ways:
  • NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
  • NASA's Planetary Missions Program Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
  • European Space Agency (ESA).
  • Italian Space Agency (ASI).
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
  • Several other NASA laboratories and offices.
NASA’s DART mission was deemed successful 10 months after its launch. A secondary spacecraft from ASI known as LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids) will be collecting data to determine if DART was able to affect the asteroid’s path. Information from ASI is expected to be released in early October 2022, but regardless of the effects, aerospace experts are praising the mission as a major step in protecting the planet from impact event threats. “DART’s success provides a significant addition to the essential toolbox we must have to protect Earth from a devastating impact by an asteroid. This demonstrates we are no longer powerless to prevent this type of natural disaster,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer. “Coupled with enhanced capabilities to accelerate finding the remaining hazardous asteroid population by our next Planetary Defense mission, the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor, a DART successor could provide what we need to save the day,” Johnson continued. https://www.tiktok.com/@nbcnews/video/7148089064233815342?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7138871062025471530

NASA Asteroid Warning 2022 Surely Not the Last

DART’s final images prior to impact before the spacecraft’s kamikaze represent a great leap forward in defending Earth, as it shines a light on the advancement in technology we now have. But with increased technology and knowledge comes more data. This data will surely be able to grow further and further as we explore our galaxy and beyond. This is also why we'll likely receive additional asteroid warnings as time goes on. Combined with the increase in space junk, it’s an interesting time to be monitoring the heavens. NASA's DART asteroid-smashing mission to hit an asteroid in 2022 was a success, and it could be an increasingly important tool for Earth, America, and those traveling to new frontiers in space.

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