Official sources (communiqués, databases, BOE)
We republish this article published in the Sinc Agency on October 11, 2022.
Featured Image Credits: CTIO/NOIRLab/SOAR/NSF/AURA/T. Kareta (Lowell Observatory), M. Knight (US Naval Academy).
The analysis of the data obtained in the last two weeks by the research team of the NASA DART probe shows that the impact of the spacecraft against its target asteroid, Dimorphos, managed to divert its trajectory. This fact supposes the first time humanity deliberately changed the displacement of a celestial object and the first large-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology.
“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have,” he explains. bill nelson from NASA. “This mission shows that NASA is trying to prepare for whatever the universe throws at us. We have shown that we take our role as defenders of the planet seriously. This is a defining moment for the planetary defense and for all humanity”, he adds.
Before the impact of DART, Dimorphos took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger host asteroid Didymos. Since the intentional collision on September 26, astronomers have used ground-based telescopes to measure how much that orbit time has changed.
Now the research team has confirmed that the spacecraft impact altered Dimorphos’s orbit around Didymos. in 32 minutes, shortening it from 11 hours and 55 minutes to 11 hours and 23 minutes. This measurement has a margin of error of approximately 2 minutes.
Prior to the encounter, NASA had defined a minimal successful change in Dimorphos’s orbital period as a change of 73 seconds or more. This early data shows that this minimum benchmark was exceeded by more than 25 times.
“This is an important step in understanding the full effect of DART’s impact on its target asteroid,” he says. Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “As new data comes in daily, astronomers will be able to better assess whether a mission like this could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid, if we ever find one headed our way, and How could we do it?
The research team is still acquiring data with ground observatories located around the world, as well as facilities from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Goldstone Planetary Radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. Scientists are updating the measurement with frequent observations to improve its accuracy.
Right now their efforts are focused on measuring the efficiency of the transfer of the amount of movement of about 22,530 kilometers per hour of the collision. According to NASA, the tons of asteroid rock that were displaced and thrown into space by the impact and that exploded recoil substantially improved thrust.
To understand the effect of such recoil, more information is needed about the physical properties of the asteroid, such as its surface features and how strong or weak it is. These issues are still under investigation.
“DART has provided us with fascinating data on the asteroid properties and its effectiveness as a planetary defense technology”, assures Nancy Chabot, lead coordinator for the probe at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
In about four years, the European Space Agency Hera project it also plans to conduct detailed studies of both Dimorphos and Didymos, with a particular focus on the crater left by the DART collision and precise measurements of Dimorphos’s mass. This asteroid does not represent any danger to Earth, neither before nor after the controlled collision.
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