NASA deliberately crashed a 1,260-pound (570 kg) spacecraft into the surface of a wandering asteroid to assess its ability to avoid a catastrophic collision with Earth.
Since its birth some 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth has been constantly bombarded with material left over from the creation of the solar system. Most of these interplanetary fragments are so small that they tear apart when they collide with Earth’s dense atmosphere.
But once every few million years, a giant asteroid big enough to survive an atmospheric re-entry crashes into our planet’s surface with cataclysmic forces.
NASA’s DART spacecraft completes first planetary defense mission
The most recent monster collision occurred approximately 66 million years ago. This time, a 6-mile (10 km) wide asteroid hit the Earth, excavating a huge crater. Its remains can still be found today on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The combination of devastation from the initial impact and environmental changes brought about by the resulting radioactive fallout rang death knell for 75% of all animals on Earth, effectively ending the age of the dinosaurs.
It’s entirely possible that another giant asteroid impact could drive humanity to extinction. You may be
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is the first step in developing planetary defenses against giant asteroids. The missions themselves are relatively simple compared to Hollywood films with similar themes. A clear lack of nuclear weapons, oversized training, or Bruce Willis.
Instead, NASA sent a lone (and apparently uncrewed) rocket to see how an impact would shift its trajectory to attack head-on an asteroid moving at 14,000 miles per hour. ) chose to command the probe. The idea is that if we detect a potentially dangerous asteroid early enough, it takes only a small amount of shunting to send it to a safer path.
“Planetary defense is a unified global effort that affects everyone on Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now we know that we can aim a spacecraft with the precision needed to hit a small object in space. Small changes in speed can make a big difference in the path an asteroid travels.” .”
The mission target is the 530 feet (160 m) wide asteroid/asteroid Dimorphos., The asteroid orbits a larger, 2,560-foot (780 m) wide asteroid known as Didymos, and passes through the solar system.
NASA has stressed that neither asteroid posed a threat to Earth before or after the test.
In the hours leading up to the crash, DART used advanced navigation software to interpret images captured by its on-board cameras and navigate autonomously. During this time, the doomed rover was able to capture detailed images of Demorphos’ desolate, rubble-strewn surface.
Successful impact!see from #DARTMIssionA DRACO camera as a vending machine-sized spaceship successfully collides with an asteroid Demorphos, the size of a football stadium and not a threat to Earth. pic.twitter.com/7bXipPkjWD
— NASA (@NASA) September 26, 2022
Finally, on September 26, at 7:14 p.m. Easter time, after years of development and 10 months of navigation in interplanetary space, mission handlers announced that DART had successfully impacted its objectives. announced that it had given
After the collision, the asteroid pair was observed by a number of ground and orbital observatories, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which sought to determine how much the collision changed Dimorphus’ orbit.
More specifically, the global scientific community will learn how collisions changed the time it takes smaller asteroids to orbit larger asteroids, and observe the behavior of material blown off the surface. I wanted to
The rugged telescope was deployed 15 days before the mission finale, assisted in this task by a small Italian cubesat aboard the DART mothership.
The sole purpose of this small satellite is to provide another perspective on DART images and the damage done to the asteroid system. However, due to the small size of the antenna, it will take several weeks to send the images back to Earth.
Amazing photos of Earth from space
Computer modeling of the event predicts that this collision will shorten the orbital period of the amorphous by about 10 minutes, or 1%. Detailed observations will be compared and refined against these models to improve scientists’ understanding of asteroids.
Regardless of the eventual orbital shift, the DART mission can only be considered a success. It has been demonstrated that the unmanned spacecraft can autonomously perform the calculations and orbit corrections required to hit an asteroid, even when the asteroid is orbiting a larger body.
Asteroid Duo will be the target of the European Space Agency’s Hera mission in 2026, four years from now, during which time the mothership and CubeSats will perform follow-up observations.
Ralph Semmel, director of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, commented: “Beyond the truly exciting success of technology demonstrations, DART-based capabilities could one day be used to redirect asteroids to protect our planet and sustain life on Earth as we know it. There is a possibility that