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Thursday, September 29, 2022

NASA’s DART to Collide with Asteroid Dimorphos Soon

The spaceship will be approaching the space rock at a speed of nearly 4 miles (6.1 kilometres) per second

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

UNITED STATES: On September 26, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will attempt the difficult task of colliding with Dimorphos, a tiny moon orbiting Didymos, a larger asteroid. 

Although there is no danger to Earth from the asteroid, this mission will test technology that might be employed to protect our planet from any comet or asteroid risks that may be discovered in the future.

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When it collides with Dimorphos, which is about 525 feet (160 metres) broad, and roughly 1,320-pound (about 600-kilogram) DART spacecraft, which was launched in November 2021, will be 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometres) from Earth. 

The spaceship will be approaching the space rock at a speed of nearly 4 miles (6.1 kilometres) per second, making things even more difficult. Every 11.9 hours, Dimorphos makes an orbit around Didymos, a planet with a diameter of about 780 metres.

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When it collides with Dimorphos, which is about 525 feet (160 metres) broad, the roughly 1,320-pound (about 600-kilogram) DART spacecraft, which was launched in November 2021, will be 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometres) from Earth. 

The spaceship will be approaching the space rock at a speed of nearly 4 miles (6.1 kilometres) per second, making things even more difficult. Every 11.9 hours, Dimorphos makes an orbit around Didymos, a planet with a diameter of about 780 metres.

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DART will use an autonomous onboard navigator developed by APL to keep on course during the last hours of its one-way trip. Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real-Time Navigation (SMART Nav) analyses high-resolution images of Didymos and Dimorphos taken by DART’s DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation) camera to determine what manoeuvring is necessary for the final four hours before impact.

According to scientists, the moonlet’s orbital period should be shortened by several minutes as a result of the impact. Telescopes on Earth should be able to see and measure the impacts after that time. 

This test should be sufficient to show whether kinetic impact technology, which involves hitting an asteroid to change its speed and hence its course, might shield Earth from an asteroid strike.

Also Read: NASA’s DART Will Try to Change an Asteroid’s Path

Author

  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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