‘This one’s for the dinosaurs’: How the world reacted to NASA’s asteroid hit

A spaceship crash is, for once, cause for celebration. The Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission on Tuesday marked humanity’s first-ever attempt to move an asteroid through space.

Scientists from Nasa and Johns Hopkins University cheered and hugged on Tuesday after the ATM-sized Dart successfully crashed into Dimorphos, a land-sized asteroid football that posed no risk to the Earth.

Online viewers and astrophiles also had a field day. A Twitter user created an account with the username “DART the asteroid slayer”, and tweeted“I’m about to ruin this asteroid’s entire career.” And later: “THIS ONE IS FOR THE DINOSAURS”.

There were many more dinosaur revenge jokes:

we just clapped an asteroid, humans-1 dinosaurs -0

— hasanabi (@hasanthehun) September 26, 2022


we just cheered an asteroid, humans-1 dinosaurs -0

— hasanabi (@hasanthehun) September 26, 2022

Dinosaurs after the asteroid hit: pic.twitter.com/9icK2JRNlg

— pierce (@cringe_genius) September 26, 2022


Others shed light on the spacecraft’s self-destruction:

If DART can crash and explode while being useful in the field of astronomy then so can I

— Chad Popik (@Astro_Chad) September 26, 2022


If DART can crash and explode while still being useful in the field of astronomy, then so can I

— Chad Popik (@Astro_Chad) September 26, 2022

“No, it’s not a cinematic plot,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Twitter Monday, acknowledging the mission’s fictional antecedent as a sci-fi movie trope. Rather than detonate Dimorphos, the agency’s goal was for the collision to deflect him – a technique known as kinetic impact.

The researchers now want to confirm that the impact changed the asteroid’s orbit. Nasa expects Dimorphos’ orbit around a larger asteroid – Didymos, which measures 780 meters in diameter – to have shortened by about 1%, or about 10 minutes.

The successful demonstration of planetary defense was visible from Earth, including from the South African Astronomical Observatory and ATLAS (the Asteroid Earth Impact Last Warning System) in Hawaii.

ATLAS observations of the DART spacecraft impact at Didymos! pic.twitter.com/26IKwB9VSo

— ATLAS Project (@fallingstarIfA) September 27, 2022


Last night, Nicolas Erasmus (SAAO) and Amanda Sickafoose (@planetarysci) successfully observed DART's impact with Dimorphos using the Mookodi instrument on the SAAO's 1-m Lesedi telescope.@fallingstarIfA also did a very similar measurement using ATLAS-Sutherland.#DART #NASA pic.twitter.com/olr4gV5SOV

— SAAO (@SAAO) September 27, 2022


Dart launched last November and has spent the last 10 months flying in space.

Peter Kalmus, a NASA climatologist, underline “It’s great that NASA is testing the ability to deflect an asteroid or comet if necessary”, but unlike the movie Don’t Look Up, “the real, clear and present danger to humanity is of course the collapse of the Earth due to the combustion of fossil fuels”.

NASA's DART spacecraft launches through the Vandenberg fog in November, 2021.

Today it successfully hit an asteroid! pic.twitter.com/75VDERy4vS

— Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) September 26, 2022


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