The last complete image of asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, taken by the DRACO imager on NASA’s DART mission from ~7 miles from the asteroid and 2 seconds before impact. The image shows a patch of the asteroid that is 100 feet across. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration, successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday, Sept. 26 – the Administration’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.

Mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, announced the successful impact at 7:14 p.m. EDT.

“At its core, DART represents an unprecedented success for planetary defense, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “[T]his international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”

The investigation team will now observe Dimorphos using ground-based telescopes to confirm that DART’s impact altered the asteroid’s orbit around Didymos. Researchers expect the impact to shorten Dimorphos’s orbit by about 1%, or roughly 10 minutes.

The final images from DART’s DRACO camera, obtained seconds before impact, revealed the surface of Dimorphos in close-up detail.

“The team nailed it – and I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts,” said APL Space Exploration Sector Head Bobby Braun. “Today is a milestone in demonstrating just how far our nation’s space program has come, and how important it is to all of us here on Earth.” 

Roughly four years from now, the European Space Agency’s Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both Dimorphos and Didymos, with a particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and a precise measurement of Dimorphos’ mass.

Johns Hopkins APL manages the DART mission for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office.