CLARKSBURG W.Va. (WBOY) — Observations from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia have identified NASA’s asteroid redirection mission to be a success, and is humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART mission was a first-of-its-kind experiment to determine how space agencies might deal with a potentially world-ending asteroid on a collision course with earth.

The green circle shows the location of the Dimorphos asteroid, which orbits the larger asteroid, Didymos, seen here as the bright line across the middle of the images. The blue circle shows where Dimorphos would have been if its orbit had not changed due to NASA’s DART mission purposefully impacting the smaller asteroid on Sept. 26, 2022. The images show the Didymos and Dimorphos binary asteroid system obtained from radar facilities at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Goldstone planetary radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. Shown at left are Oct. 4, 2022, observations from Goldstone observations; at right are combined Goldstone and Green Bank observations from Oct. 9, 2022.
Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/JPL/NASA JPL Goldstone Planetary Radar/National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory

The Green Bank Observatory, in conjunction with the Goldstone radio telescope in California, has been monitoring the pair of asteroids over the two weeks following the experiment on Sept. 26. Observations found not only that the trajectory had been changed successfully, but that it exceeded the initial expectations for how large the shift would be.

“The Green Bank Observatory is very excited to contribute to this radar measurement in support of the DART mission.  The Green Bank Telescope’s large collecting area makes it extremely sensitive and a prime receiving station to detect these faint radar echoes. Given the huge dust cloud and trail kicked up by the impact, DART clearly had a dramatic effect on poor little Dimorphos,” said Jim Jackson, Green Bank Observatory director.

The Green Bank radio telescope is situated inside the National Radio Quiet Zone in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, an area where radio transmissions are extremely restricted. This includes other sources of radiation and radio signals like microwaves, TVs and mobile phones. The National Radio Quiet Zone is the only area of its kind in the United States.

The Green Bank telescope is the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world and can view 85% of the celestial sphere, which is just a fancy way of saying it can look at a lot of the night sky.