GREEN BANK, WV (WOAY) – History was made in asteroid deflection.
On September 26, 2022, NASA successfully redirected the small, harmless asteroid that was en route to Earth known as Dimorphos. This marks the first time in the history of humanity that the motion of a celestial object was purposely altered.
It also marks the first time the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology was utilized.
While the 525-foot asteroid wasn’t much of a threat, the deflection of its orbit will help pave the way for bigger, possibly even deadly asteroid deflection.
“We wouldn’t really be able to understand how this could be used in the future for something like planetary defense,” a scientist at Green Bank Observatory, Will Armentrout says. “That’s the entire overview of this mission is planetary defense. We don’t want to go out like the dinosaurs did by having a giant asteroid hit the earth.”
Over the past couple of weeks, NASA’S Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) investigation team has shown the spacecraft that hit the asteroid, and the kinetic impact with its target.
They have also put the Green Bank Telescope at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia to some use with the mission.
The team at NASA has used the telescope to provide radar observations in determining Dimorpho’s new orbit around its larger, parent asteroid Didymos.
“This is a really cool project I think to be a part of, because this is the first planetary defense project that humans have ever put on, so the fact that the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia gets to play a part in this I think is really special,” Armentrout adds.
The Green Bank’s telescope makes an ideal tool for tracking the faint radar echoes from the asteroid, as, while it’s very large, it is an extremely sensitive device.