December 3, 2023

happy World Asteroid Day! In less than 90 days, NASA will strive to achieve the seemingly impossible when it tries to change the course of an asteroid – by hitting it.

The plan – called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)Nails colliding a 500-kg spacecraft into a binary asteroid 65803 Didymos and its moon Demorphos (nicknamed “Didymoon”) in an attempt to change their course.

There is no danger on Earth. Didymus and Didymon don’t go our way. Instead, it’s an attempt to figure out what could be a very valuable planetary defense skill – pushing an asteroid out of its path to avoid hitting Earth.

However, DART could be a little more aggressive than planned, according to a new paper published today in Planetary Science Journal Which claims that instead of creating a small crater, NASA’s spacecraft could leave the asteroid unknown.

DART was launched in November 2021 and will reach Didymos and Didymoon in September and during October Didymoon will hit at around 15,000mph. It is hoped that the impact will change the orbital velocity of the Didymoon by 0.4 mm/sec, which in turn will slightly alter Didymus’ trajectory.

However, according to the researchers, the effect could distort the Didymoon much more than previously thought. It was hoped that the impact would leave only a small crater.

Said Sabina Radokan, lead author of the study, from the Institute of Physics and the National Center for Competencies at Research PlanetS at the University of Bern.

The researchers’ model takes into account the propagation of shock waves and other factors.

Although the impact will occur in September, scientists won’t know the outcome until a European Space Agency spacecraft called HERA arrives at the scene to survey the damage — and see if the asteroid’s path has changed.

The European Space Agency’s Hera mission will begin in October 2023 and reach Didymos in 2026.

“To make the most of the HERA mission, we need to have a good understanding of the potential consequences of the DART effect,” said Martin Gotze of the Institute of Physics and the National Center for Efficiency in Planetary Research and co-author of the study. . “This also adds an important piece to the puzzle of our understanding of asteroids in general.”

I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.

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