Hubble sees the collision of NASA’s DART spacecraft and asteroid | digital trends

Last year, NASA tested a new method to defend the planet from incoming objects by crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid. Recently, more detailed analysis of the impact data has shown more about what happened during and after the impact, and how effective it was in changing the asteroid’s orbit.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured a series of images showing the aftermath of the impact, which have been put together in a video showing the bright flash of the impact and the emerging plume of material sent from the asteroid:

The Hubble data is also shown in the form of three images. The first shows the scene around two hours after impact, with a cone of material called an ejecta made up of around 1,000 tons of dust. The second image from 17 hours after impact shows how this cone of material interacts with the gravity of the other asteroid in the pair, called Didymos. Finally, the third image shows how the ejecta is attracted in the form of a tail due to the effects of sunlight.

These three panels capture the breakup of asteroid Dimorphos as it was deliberately struck by NASA’s 1,200-pound Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission spacecraft on September 26, 2022. The Hubble Space Telescope had a view of Front row of the space demolition derby. SCIENCE: NASA, ESA, STScI, Jian-Yang Li (PSI) IMAGE PROCESSING: Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

This view shows how the impact effects on the asteroid depend on it being part of a binary system: two asteroids orbiting each other. “The DART impact occurred in a binary asteroid system,” lead author of a study on the ejecta, Jian-Yang Li, of the Institute of Planetary Sciences, said in a statement. “We have never before witnessed the collision of an object with an asteroid in a binary asteroid system in real time, and it is truly amazing. I think it’s fantastic. There’s too much going on here. It’s going to take some time to find out.”

NASA has reported further analysis of the impact data. The agency shared in an update that the impact altered Dimorphos’ orbit by 33 minutes, showing that this method can be effective in changing an asteroid’s trajectory. That means that if such an asteroid were ever to threaten Earth, we would have an idea of ​​how to deflect it, as long as it was detected early, since it takes several years to prepare, and as long as it was on a similar size scale to Dimorphos, which is about half a mile wide.

“I was delighted when DART slammed head-on into the asteroid for the world’s first demonstration of planetary defense technology, and that was just the beginning,” Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in the update. . “These findings add to our fundamental understanding of asteroids and lay the foundation for how humanity can defend Earth from a potentially dangerous asteroid by altering its course.”

Editors’ Recommendations

Source link

James D. Brown
James D. Brown
Articles: 7740