NASA/Eyes on Asteroids
Barely a week goes by without headlines about a giant asteroid coming past Earth. Here’s what really makes an asteroid pass notable – it’s not just size.
The James Webb Space Telescope began sending its first images back to Earth in the summer of 2022.
NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI via Flickr
NASA has been gaining momentum in recent years as investment into space has ramped up in the US. In 2022, missions dealt with the farthest, closest, hottest and coldest conditions in the universe.
Artist’s impression of the asteroid discovered toward the Sun.
DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine
With a diameter between 1.1km and 2.3km, asteroid 2022 AP7 is the largest potentially hazardous asteroid found since 2014.
DART has forever changed the orbit of a small asteroid – and done so with much greater success than expected.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test successfully changed the orbit of the small moonlet Dimorphos.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test successfully showed that it is possible to crash a spacecraft into a small asteroid and change its orbit. This technique could save Earth from asteroids in the future.
Didymos (bottom right) and its smaller moonlet Dimorphos (center) were the targets of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test successfully showed that it is possible to crash a spacecraft into a small asteroid. Whether the approach could save Earth from a future threat remains to be seen.
Illustration of DART before impact.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben
The first ever planetary defence test is about to take place 11 million kilometres from Earth. All we can do is wait and see.
Animation of the Dart mission.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL
We don’t know much about the target asteroid of Nasa’s imminent Dart mission, so it’s hard to predict what will happen when we crash into it.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test is the first planetary defense experiment ever attempted.
Crashing the 1,340-pound DART probe into the small moonlet orbiting the asteroid Didymos should redirect its trajectory – and could be a model for how to save Earth in the future.
A giant asteroid struck Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
NASA has only mapped 40% of the potentially dangerous asteroids that could crash into Earth. New projects will boost that number, and upcoming missions will test tech that could prevent collisions.