Historic feat! NASA confirms dart mission altered asteroid's trajectory

Historic feat! NASA confirms DART mission altered asteroid's trajectory

Avatar of otávio queiroz
DART mission spacecraft, which crashed on September 26, managed to change the asteroid's path by 4%, enough to generate good results.

Now it's not just in Hollywood movies that men are able to deflect asteroids and save all of humanity. THE National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)) confirmed, at a press conference held on Tuesday (11), that he managed to successfully deflect the trajectory of an asteroid, during a test of humanity's ability to protect itself from a possible threat.

For this purpose, the ship DART mission voluntarily collided, on September 26, with the asteroid Dimorphos, which is a satellite of a larger asteroid, called Didymos, and which is located about 11 million kilometers from Earth. In this way, he managed to move it, informed the head of the space agency, Bill Nelson, who also said that this is “a defining moment for planetary defense and a defining moment for humanity”.

Nelson further stated that, before impact, Dimorph took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger asteroid, with which it forms the double asteroid system. According to him, the spacecraft managed to reduce this orbit in 32 minutes, representing a 4% change in route. As a result, Dimorfo's orbit has now moved closer to about ten meters to the other asteroid, and the resulting change in its trajectory is permanent. (https://blogs.20minutos.es/) “It would have been a success if it had slowed [the orbit] down by just about 10 minutes, but actually reduced it by 32 minutes.“, celebrated the head of the space agency.

The change was considered “spectacular and exciting” by Nancy Chabot, planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and vice president of the Meteoritical Society:

The DART mission has shown that we are able to change trajectories using the impact technique. The key to this is early detection [of asteroids that may be heading toward Earth.

Nancy Chabot, planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)

Planetary Defense Mission

Planetary defense mission - dart mission
The Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of debris hurled away from the surface of Dimorphos 285 hours after impact.

So common in film productions, the intervention of man in asteroid routes has never been performed before in human history. The test was intended to know how to act in a possible future case in which it is necessary to protect the Earth from asteroids similar to the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

It is estimated that there are about 10 near-Earth asteroids that are at least 140 meters in size. Scientists still believe there are more than 15 of these objects to be discovered in the next few decades. However, none of them have a significant chance of hitting the planet in the next 100 years, according to the NASA.

The probe used in the mission was launched on November 24, 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. using the rocket SpaceX Falcon 9, the object was controlled remotely from Earth and, in total, 44 people carried out the monitoring at the moment of impact.

Historic feat! NASA confirms dart mission altered asteroid's trajectory
The probe used in the mission was launched on November 24 last year from Vandenberg Air Base (Reproduction/Internet)

During the press conference, the US space agency highlighted that this data is just the beginning of all the information that it hopes will be provided by this entire mission. The idea of ​​NASA experts is that a system to protect the Earth against a possible asteroid collision will be developed in a maximum of 30 years.

Currently, no celestial bodies have been detected heading towards Earth, but with the knowledge gained now, the development of a new space probe could be completed in a maximum of two years. This is a "a very short time for the paces of the space industry“, Says Ian Carnelli, head of the project.

Asteroid heading towards Earth
After the collision, NASA intends to study the asteroid Didymos (Reproduction/Internet)

The mission has two parts: after the collision, scientists will begin to observe how the asteroid will make its orbit around the Earth. Didymus, with the “push” of the NASA space probe. This should help create a protective process for Earth and what should be done when a real threat exists.

It's as if you dropped your wristwatch and damaged it. It won't necessarily be the same time. You might not notice it right away, but in the weeks and days and weeks that follow, you'll notice that your clock is running faster – and we've noticed that the binary asteroid system is running fast.

In addition to NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) is also preparing its own mission to get close to the rock. For this, it will use the HERA spacecraft, scheduled to launch in 2024. At the same time, China is also planning a planetary defense mission for 4 years from now, in 2026.

See also:

NASA intends to retire the International Space Station, providing space for private sector commercial operations. Understand.

Sources: NASA, The Guardian, CNN.

Sign up to receive our news:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Related Posts