Passed the DART test: Historic asteroid deflection to protect Earth

Passed the DART test: Historic asteroid deflection to protect Earth

Humanity managed to voluntarily deviate from the path of an asteroid during a test in space. The crash of DART on Dimorphos reduced the time it took for the object to complete its orbit.

For the first time, humans have changed the movement of a celestial body. “It’s now confirmedThis Tuesday, October 11, 2022: DART . mission Succeeded in disabling orbit The asteroid Demorphos, which crashed at the end of September. Remember, this is a test: this asteroid poses no danger to us planet.

Demorphos is a moon orbiting Didymus and another asteroid. Before mission impact, Demorphos took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit Didymus. After the spacecraft collided with the celestial body, astronomers from Earth noticed how This effect could potentially disrupt the asteroid’s binary system. And so we were able to notice that The asteroid hit by DART formed an impressive 10,000 km tail long, like a comet.

The asteroid seen by Hubble a few days after the DART collision. // source : NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble (cropped image)

The asteroid Demorphos takes 32 minutes less to orbit Didymos

We now know, thanks to these observations, that Demorphos’ orbit around its parent body has shrunk by 32 minutes. The time it takes Demorphos to complete a cycle around Didymus has increased to 11 hours 23 minutes (With a margin of uncertainty of about 2 minutes.)

So it’s a lot more than NASA estimated. Before DART impacted the asteroid, the space agency predicted a change of just 1 minute and 13 seconds. ” This early data shows that DART exceeded this lower limit of the norm by more than 25 times “NASA notes in its press release. It is an undeniable success of the first planetary defense mission, against potentially dangerous asteroids, ever carried out.

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However, the observations and data collection is far from over. Scientists will continue to monitor how long Demorphos takes to complete an orbit, to get a more accurate result.

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