April 13, 2024
NASA Spotlight: DART mission and asteroid Dimorphos is the astronomical picture of the day

NASA Spotlight: DART mission and asteroid Dimorphos is the astronomical picture of the day

This Thursday (9), featured image on the site today’s picture It brings one of the last records of the asteroid Dimorphos, captured when there were about three seconds left for the DART mission probe to impact.

Shown in the image are rectangles representing the ship and its solar panels, totaling over 500 kg. They are positioned over the mission’s point of impact, located between two rocks; The largest of them is 6.5 meters long.

The spacecraft collided with Dimorphos in September last year, causing kinetics that shorten the space rock’s orbital period around the asteroid Didymos. It now takes about 32 minutes to complete an orbit around the other asteroid.

In addition to demonstrating a successful method that could be used to alter the orbit of asteroids in the future, if one were to be caught on a collision course with Earth, the DART mission would have a number of implications for Dimorphos. Scientists are still studying them, and for now, they already know that the asteroid has slowed down, started behaving like an active asteroid and more.

What is the mission of DART

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was launched in November 2021 to the asteroid system Didymos (the Greek term for “twins”), formed by Didymos, 780 meters in diameter, and Dimorphos, 160 meters in diameter.

It was September of last year when DART hit its target. Most of the mission’s last four hours were automated, and it followed Dimorphos with the help of its navigation system; On the final part of the approach, it sent back pictures of the asteroid duo, revealing them in a way it hadn’t been seen before.

DART’s main camera returned to Earth every second until the feed was cut off after impact. The collision has also been observed by telescopes such as the Hubble. Data analysis showed that the mission accomplished its goal, by intentionally changing the asteroid’s orbit for the first time in human history.

source: APOD