I worked hard! For the first time, humanity moved the celestial object on purpose.
As a test of the potential deflection scheme, NASA’s DART spacecraft reduced the orbit of the asteroid Dimorphos by 32 minutes — a much larger change than astronomers had expected.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, struck the smallest asteroid at about 22,500 kilometers per hour on September 26 (SN: 9/26/22). The goal was to move Dimorphos slightly closer to the orbits of the larger asteroid, Didymos.
Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos posed a threat to Earth. VERTI’s mission was to help scientists figure out if a similar impact could knock a potentially dangerous asteroid out of harm’s way before it hits our planet.
The experiment was a resounding success. Before the stroke, Dimorphos Didymos prayed every 11 hours and 55 minutes. After, the orbit took 11 hours and 23 minutes, NASA announced in October in a news brief.
“For the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit of a planetary body,” said NASA planetary science division director Lori Glaze.
Four telescopes in Chile and South Africa observed the asteroid every night after the impact. Telescopes cannot see asteroids individually, but they can detect periodic changes in brightness as asteroids eclipse each other. All four telescopes saw the eclipse coincident with the 11-hour, 23-minute orbit. The effect was confirmed by two planetary radar facilities that directly emit radio waves to measure the asteroid’s orbits, said Nancy Chabot, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Physical Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
The minimum change for the team shot to declare success was 73 seconds — a goal goal loss of more than 30 minutes. The team thinks that the show’s featherweight debris that the impactor kicked in gave the mission extra oomph. The impact itself gave the asteroid some momentum, but sending the debris flying in the other direction pushed it more – like a makeshift rocket engine.
“This is a very exciting and promising issue for planetary defense,” Chabot said. But the change in orbital period was only 4 percent. “He just gave a little nudge,” he said. Knowing what asteroid is coming depends on future success. For similar work on an Earth asteroid, “you’d want to do it years ago,” Chabot said. An upcoming space telescope called the Near-Earth Asteroid Surveyor is one of many projects designed to provide an early warning of this.
#NASAs #Spike #mission #successfully #passed #asteroid #Science #News