Monday, September 26, 2022

DART-ing An Asteroid -- Live Tonight (UPDATED)


Must- see NASA TV tonight!

More than 6.5 million miles away from Earth, a cosmic collision is imminent.

In a first-of-its-kind maneuver, a NASA spacecraft is set to intentionally smash into an asteroid to test whether deflecting a space rock could one day protect Earth from a potentially catastrophic impact.

The crash is planned for 7:14 p.m. ET Monday. Live coverage will air on NASA TV beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

The mission, known as DART, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, will attempt a method of planetary defense that could save Earth from an asteroid on a potential collision course with the planet. It's a rare opportunity to conduct a real-world experiment on an asteroid that doesn't pose a threat to Earth, said Bruce Betts, the chief scientist at the Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization that conducts research, advocacy and outreach to promote space exploration.  [snip]

The DART probe's target is a space rock called Dimorphos, which measures 525 feet across and orbits a much larger, 2,500-foot-wide asteroid named Didymos.

On Monday, the spacecraft will crash into Dimorphos at a blistering speed of around 4 miles per second, or 15,000 mph. The goal isn't to obliterate the asteroid but rather to see whether the collision can alter the space rock's nearly 12-hour orbit.  [snip]

The DART probe, which is about the size of a small car, will be destroyed in the maneuver, but a small, Italian-built cubesat that was deployed as part of the mission will be able to assess the immediate aftermath.

The tiny satellite, known as LICIACube, will fly within 25 to 50 miles of Dimorphos a few minutes after the crash, Dan Lubey, the LICIACube navigation lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement — "close enough to get good images of the impact and ejecta plume, but not so close LICIACube could be hit by ejecta.  (our emphasis)

We'd say, assuming all goes as planned, that's a damned good use of taxpayer dollars.




1 comment:

Mart said...

An amazing strike. Assume NASA has done the maths, but I don't see it having a measurable orbital impact. Like spitting on a passing train. Time will tell.