GOOGLE has launched a fun easter egg Nasa successfully crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid on Monday.
Typing a specific phrase into the search engine triggers a special animation to celebrate the mission going off without a hitch.
Nasa on Monday announced that it had pulled off the feat following years of preparation.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission intentionally smashed into the space rock Didymos, 6million miles from Earth.
It’s the first true test of a new planetary defence system that could one day be used to divert incoming doomsday asteroids.
To celebrate, Google paid tribute with a temporary addition to its search engine.
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Typing “Nasa DART” into Google search triggers an animation in which the DART spacecraft races across your screen.
It eventually nudges your search results, leaving them askew and, franchement, a little trickier to read.
Try it now on Google’s website or by typing into the address bar at the top of Google’s Chrome browser.
NASA staff jumped to their feet in delight after DART into an asteroid on Monday, confirming a crowning achievement in planetary defence.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission intentionally smashed into a space rock 6million miles from Earth.
It is Nasa’s first planetary defense test and is just the beginning as the agency will use the information to see if DART actually changed the asteroid’s orbit.
In future, Nasa may employ similar missions to deflect incoming asteroids that threaten our planet.
Members of the mission operations staff watched the impact as the asteroid grew in size on the spacecraft’s camera feed.
“We have impact!” a commentator announced.
The impact was confirmed once DART lost its signal while crashing into the asteroid.
Nasa administrator Bill Nelson hailed the mission, calling the project a “giant step in planetary defense.”
Nasa took images of the impact using a small satellite that detached from DART shortly before its final moments.
Those photos are now on their way back to Earth and will arrive roughly 24 hours after the crash.
Data captured by the companion cubesat will help in the assessment of whether the $330million mission was a success.
DART was aimed at changing the orbit of its target, Dimorphos, a moonlet that orbits the asteroid Didymos.
The scheme mirrors the plot of the 1998 blockbuster flick “Armageddon” in which Nasa flies a spacecraft to an asteroid to stop it from hitting Earth.
“DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space,” Nasa says on its website.
The DART spacecraft consisted of a box-shaped body about twice the size of a washing machine flanked by two, 18-meter-long solar panels.
It lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in November and took ten months to reach the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos.
Didymos is about 740 meters across and sits between the orbits of Earth and Mars. It was not the mission’s primary focus.
À la place, Nasa’s intrepid battering ram set its sights on a smaller asteroid – or moonlet – orbiting Didymos closely.
The asteroid, called Dimorphos, meaning “two forms”, est 525 feet in diameter. It poses no threat to Earth, but represents the size of asteroid that would cause serious damage were it to hit our planet.
The impact did not destroy the asteroid but it is hoped it changed its speed so it aligns with the orbit of Didymos.
“Sometimes we describe it as running a golf cart into a great pyramid or something like that,” said Nancy Chabot, planetary scientist and DART coordination lead at the Applied Physics Laboratory.
“But for Dimorphos, this really is about asteroid deflection, not disruption.”
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There are no asteroids on a direct impact course with Earth at this current time, but there are over 27,000 near-Earth asteroids in all shapes and sizes.
The data collected by DART will help with planetary defense strategies and could help scientists understand the kind of force needed to shift the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid.
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