NASA reports that the first-ever mission to intentionally collide a spacecraft with the asteroid Dimorphos not only turned out to be accurate, but also was able to radically change its trajectory. With this, the aerospace administration has proved that it is able to prevent the potential fall of a dangerous asteroid to Earth in the future.
This just in: The #DARTmission impact is confirmed to have changed the orbit of moonlet Dimorphos around its asteroid Didymos.
— NASA (@NASA) October 11, 2022
The collision with the asteroid Dimorphos occurred on September 26, 2022. This bright event was visible even from the Earth. But at first, scientists did not know whether it was really possible to change its orbit. Observations have shown that the rotation time of the Dimorphos around Didymos accelerated: from 11 hours 55 minutes to 11 hours 23 minutes — there was an amazing change of 32 minutes! NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, during a press conference on October 11, 2022, called this a turning point for humanity and the protection of the planet.
DART Suicide Mission
The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland broadcast a carefully organized USD 330 million collision two weeks ago, giving viewers incredible footage of a space accident. The online broadcast took place in real time with a 45-second delay, because the event itself occurred 11 million km from Earth.
It worked! Analysis of data obtained over the past two weeks by our #DARTMission investigation team shows the spacecraft’s kinetic impact with its target asteroid successfully made a small change to the asteroid’s orbit. See what we’re learning so far: https://t.co/5VZRFoZmkX pic.twitter.com/gOZ7Wm4elG
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) October 11, 2022
The 500-kilogram device imitated a space projectile, but it did not aim to explode, as in the movie “Armageddon”. Its weapons were mass and speed, so the net force of a kinetic impact on an asteroid at a speed of 21 thousand km/h was used. The impact of the spacecraft left a crater on the surface and formed a tail of dust with a length of 10 thousand km, but did not blow the asteroid to pieces.
NASA chose Dimorphos for this mission because it was the perfect sample to track the results of a DART strike. The asteroid’s orbit Didymos has been stable for thousands of years, and a small shift will not be dangerous for the Earth.
At the moment, NASA does not record large asteroids that may collide with our planet. However, scientists are closely monitoring 30 thousand large objects in the vicinity of the Solar System and assume that there are about 15 thousand large asteroids hidden there, waiting to be discovered. Some of them may be potentially dangerous in the future. Therefore, the aerospace administration is developing a mission to protect against such a threat from space.
According to NASA
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