December 3, 2022

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Sacrifice DART – NASA’s Spacecraft May Save Lives in the Future

We can actually prevent one of them Major life-threatening dangers to Earth from space? The impact of an asteroid on our planet is capable of destroying a city, a country, and perhaps even life itself.

The first answer will be through… his suicide mission Arrowfor her little spaceship NASA where It crashed in the early hours of Tuesday (Greece time), time awesomethe small satellite of the asteroid Twin.

The latest images from DART on its dramatic path towards asteroids They showed us that she had found her target and that the effect was subtle.

From a safe distance, about 1,000 kilometers, the small Italian satellite LICIACube was watching. Three minutes after the collision, LICIACube passed about 55 kilometers from Demorphos to record what had happened. The cameras will work for 10 minutes to photograph the satellite and the debris cloud.

However, the data It will take several months for them all to reach Earth And even more time for analysis.

on the earth More than 30 telescopes observed the collision, including the largest in the world, such as the European Very Large Telescope in Chile. space telescope Hubble The new space telescope James Webb They will also keep track of what happened.

Over the next six months, telescopes from Earth and space will periodically observe Gemini and Demorphos. Aiming to find out the effect behind it and How much – anyway – Dimorphos’ trajectory changed.

Gemini, right, and Demorphos, 2.5 minutes before impact, from a distance of 920 kilometers

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Dimorphos 11 seconds before its DART crash. Here at a distance of 68 km. Dimorphos, which is 160 meters wide, is semi-circular and the ground is strewn with stones and pebbles.

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Two seconds before the effect, the last clear image of DART. Here it is at a distance of 12 kilometers, while the width of the image is about 30 meters.

And a look from LICIACube on Earth watching from afar

But there will be a sequel. European Space Agency Planning to launch a mission in 2024 It will approach Gemini and Demorphos in 2026. Four years after the impact, the HERA mission will see the state of the asteroid and the satellite.

team of physics department Aristotle University of ThessalonikiUnder the supervision of professors Fogiatsis, Julius and Tsijani.

For those few minutes up to the impact they’ve been working on since 2014, planning and executing. Even if the mission ends with the destruction of the ship, the sense of satisfaction, as they said in their statements, is great. They also assert that DART found its target on its own and was guided very precisely.

Was DART a solution?

The “surgical” blow. Using DART was made for scientists to see if it is possible to change the path of a small asteroid bound for Earth.

The effect will change the speed of the Dimorph by less than 1% And the period of its flame is a few minutes. Measurements from the ground will tell us exactly how much. It seems like a little too much, but it could be a lifesaver.

In the event that the analysis showed that the mission was successful, then a similar mission in the near or distant future will save Earth from great danger.

The danger from the asteroid is minimal, but nonexistent.

NASA appreciates it We’ve discovered 40% of asteroids up to 140 meters in sizethat threaten the earth. Every week we discover another 30-40 asteroids that pass close to Earth (almost all of them are at a safe distance), increasing the list that already has more than 19,000 asteroids. We discover some of them after getting closer – ideally we will know about them two to three years in advance.

For larger asteroids, a batch from a small spacecraft like DART might not accomplish much — or anything at all. The good thing is that the big maps are marked and we know that there is no one It will not threaten us for the next 100 years.

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