The Earth is not exempt from the collision of an asteroid. In fact it has already happened in the past, just take a look at the extinction of the dinosaurs that was caused by the impact of a large asteroid. However, today technology is on our side and NASA is developing its first planetary defense exercise, which you can follow completely live where the DART mission deliberately crash into the Dimorphos satellite of asteroid Dydimos.
Attempt to redirect an asteroid
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is the flirt mission in the world that is in charge of planetary defense and whose objective is the diversion of a potentially dangerous object for the Earth. In that sense, DART will help understand if the deliberate collision with an asteroid is an effective way to divert its trajectory and thus avoid approaching Earth.
The target is the double asteroid Dydimos that was discovered in 1996 and that in 2003 showed signs of not being alone. Dydimos is accompanied by a small moon called Dimorphos of 160 meters in diameter, a magnitude that makes it the ideal test target for NASA’s planetary defense mission.
How to see DART collide with an asteroid?
On September 26 at 5:30 p.m. EDT (21:30 UTC), the DART mission will deliberately crash into Dimorphos. To watch this event (which is the first of its kind) you can do so through the live broadcast that NASA will activate on its official YouTube channel and that you will find in the box below.
Streaming will begin on September 26 5:15 p.m. EDT (21:15 UTC) and will continue until DART finally reaches its target, the moon Dimorphos.
What to expect from the collision against Dimorphos?
DART is a directed mission that is not specialized in space exploration through infrared or different wavelength instruments, however, it carries with it a camera called DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation) that has two purposes .
The first has to do with the proximity between Dydimos and Dimorphos, both are so close to each other that the mission will not be able to distinguish the satellite until the last minute. It will be at this moment when the DART camera finally provides data to the operators to calculate their final trajectory, so that their thrusters can then activate and achieve the collision in a completely effective way. In this final stage, DART will target Dimorphos at a breakneck speed of 14,500 miles per hour.
The second purpose of DRACO is to record the entire mission, providing images of DART’s last moments, which will be the ones that can be observed through NASA’s special transmission.
DART researchers have said that the success of the mission may not be seen until some time after the collision. This is because for now we know that the orbit of Dimorphos around Dydimos is 11 hours and 55 minutes and therefore the change will not be observed until at least this time has elapsed. Only in this way will it be possible to know if DART has managed to change the satellite’s trajectory, although it must be said that it is predicted that it will not be a very large change, only 1%, which may be more or less 10 minutes in the time of translation.
Story originally published in Ecoosfera