On Monday, September 26, 2022, NASA will intentionally collide with one of its spacecraft into an asteroid.
The first ever mission to test technology to defend Earth against potential impacts of asteroids and comets, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will actually affect Demorphos, a small moon of the asteroid Didymos.
Didymus The Dimorphos are not on a path connected to Earth, but they got close to Earth in 2003, and they also occasionally get close to Mars.
The historic event will occur at 7:14 p.m. EDT on Monday, September 26, 2022, with live coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. EDT on NASA Television on Agency TV. website as well as in FacebookAnd the Twitter And the Youtube.
Here’s everything you need to know about the daring DART mission and what will happen after the impact:
What is DART?
It is the first planetary defense mission. Its goal is to find out if it is possible to alter the course of a potentially dangerous object in space by colliding with it. The effects of the kinetic impact of the 500kg DART spacecraft on Dimorphos will be studied immediately and over many years to see if this is a workable solution when a truly threatening object heads our way.
What are Didymus and Demorphos?
They are two near-Earth asteroids orbiting each other, which is not unusual. The two largest bodies in this binary system are Didymus which is 2,560 feet/780 meters in diameter, and the smaller Dimorphos 530 feet/160 meters (also called “Dedemon”), which orbits Didymus.
Didymus and Demorphos have a two-year solar orbit that is slightly inclined to those of the planets and also slightly eccentric. They are found outside of Earth just beyond Mars.
With DART reaching them, Didymus and Demorphos will be approximately 6.8 million miles/11 million kilometers from Earth.
What will DART do?
The idea is that by creating a “kinetic deflection” on the Dimorphos, it will slightly alter the trajectory of both objects.
DART will hit Dimorphos at 15,000 mph, hopefully changing their orbital velocity by 0.4 mm/sec, which in turn will change Didymus’ trajectory slightly. If all goes as planned, the time it takes for the smaller asteroid to orbit Didymos will shift by several minutes.
simulation published In December 2021 Icarus The journal DART showed that DART “might excite” the rotation of Demorphos and cause a “chaotic landing” to achieve the hoped-for orbital change.
Will DART work?
The DART investigation team has very detailed computer simulations of kinetic impacts on asteroids, but has no direct evidence of what will actually happen. So a lot of time was spent learning about binary asteroids in detail.
“Nature before and after this experiment requires fantastic knowledge of the asteroid system before we can do anything about it,” said Nick Moskovitz, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona who co-led the observation campaign that took place in July. 2022. “We don’t want, at the last minute, to say, ‘Oh, this is something we haven’t thought of or phenomena we haven’t thought of. “We want to make sure that any change we see is entirely due to what DART has done.”
In October, an array of ground-based telescopes around the world will be used to calculate the new Demorphos orbit. “Thanks to global efforts to observe this system of ground-based telescopes, we know what it looked like before the impact,” Moskovitz said. “After the collision, we’ll use some of the same techniques, to determine how far Dimorphos are moving and, ultimately, how well we’re going.”
However, another space agency is sending another spacecraft to check again.
What is Hera?
The European Space Agency’s follow-up mission HERA – scheduled for launch in 2024 and arriving in early January 2027 – is an asteroid rendezvous spacecraft designed to go to see if DART is working.
Hera will take a closer look at both Didymus and Demorphos using a laser, star tracker, thermal infrared camera and accelerometers. He will see if the crater left by DART on Dimorphos (which will reach 200 metres) changes Didymos’ course.
When was DART launched?
DART launched Wednesday, November 24, 2021 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It was originally planned to launch on July 21, 2021, but has been delayed due to COVID-19 supply chain issues and some technical challenges.
I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.