DART is one "important step" in the long road towards functional planetary defense

Watching NASA's spacecraft impact an asteroid was "exciting beyond words," Dr. Tom Statler told IE in an interview.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of the DART spacecraft.
An artist's impression of the DART spacecraft.


  • NASA's DART mission changed the orbital period of an asteroid orbiting another asteroid last month.
  • The mission "was designed with the purpose of making accurate measurements possible" for calculations regarding planetary defense, NASA's DART program scientist Dr. Tom Statler told IE.
  • Follow-up analyses and missions are in the works as humanity gears up its planetary defense capabilities.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission successfully altered the orbital period of an asteroid, Dimorphos, orbiting a larger asteroid, Didymos, last month.

That impressive feat constituted the first planetary defense test ever carried out in space, and it determined that we should be able to avert a hazardous space rock on a collision course with Earth, should we need to.

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