Today, a NASA spacecraft hit an asteroid seven million miles distant to alter its orbit. The test was significant because it would determine if humanity could stop a cosmic object from destroying life on Earth. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, renowned for his cryptic social media postings, today published a meme recognizing the accomplishment made by NASA today.
Musk tweeted a picture of NASA hitting an asteroid. The original photograph was taken during this year’s Oscars when actor Will Smith smacked presenter Chris Host on the stage.
The tweet has gained much attention, with over 150k likes and 11,500 retweets.
In November 2021, NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft with the specific intention of colliding with an asteroid about the size of a football stadium at 14,000 miles per hour.
After the hit, Tahira Allen, a NASA spokesman, stated on the webcast, “In case you’re keeping score: humans 1, asteroids 0.”
NASA intends to reduce Dimorphos’ orbit by impacting it directly, cutting the time it now takes to encircle Didymos—11 hours and 55 minutes—by 10 minutes.
It’s feasible that NASA or another space agency would dispatch a spacecraft to slam an Earth-threatening asteroid in the future, much like DART did. Such a collision might add a little amount of velocity to gradually alter the asteroid’s course so that it passes safely past Earth in the future.