NASA's "DART" Program Suspended Amid Social Movement To Elevate the Rights of Asteroids
The successful DART mission carried out by NASA last week proved that Earth is no longer defenseless against an asteroid collision, but some are now questioning the ethics behind such an operation. Three days ago, NASA announced that after an unexpected diversion in its trajectory, the asteroid 29 Amphitrite is expected to crash into Earth’s surface in a matter of months. They urged the public not to be concerned though, because the DART mission can be replicated and redirect the asteroid with 98% certainty.
This statement soon proved to be controversial, starting with a twitter post from @PreciousPanda287 which read, “29 amphitrite is such a boring name, they should have named it mister meatball or something.” Another post from @volcano_fanatic32 contained a similar message, “YESS!!! Mister Meatball is the friend I never had!” A third post read, “DART mission, more like FART mission!” and received 7 likes and 1 retweet, which is unexpected for such a humorous comment. I later The user later deleted my their unsuccessful tweet.
Soon enough, the hashtags #SaveMisterMeatball and #StopDART were trending on the social media platform. A large portion of the American public seemed to have grown emotionally attached to the massive space rock hurtling towards our planet. A newly formed Facebook group called “Supporters of Constitutional Rights for Asteroids” with over 200 members planned a protest that was set to take place outside of the NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. on Friday.
In an emergency press conference yesterday, DART lead coordinator Dr. Nancy Chabot addressed the backlash behind the program, “I would like to begin by stating that we hear your concern for the well-being of Mister Meatball and hope you understand that it was never our intent to cause him any harm.” She continued, “NASA leadership has decided to cancel the DART missile launch and will instead launch an investigation into possible unethical practices stemming from the project’s implementation. In the meantime, the DART program will be suspended and may be terminated depending on the results of the investigation.”