An asteroid that has been going about its business not too far away from Earth is set to find its routine disrupted by a visitor from our own world.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft belonging to NASA is scheduled to crash with Dimorphos on Monday. Dimorphos is a very tiny asteroid that orbits Didymos, a somewhat bigger space rock. In spite of the fact that these two asteroids are not now a danger to our planet in any way, shape, or form, NASA decided to deploy the Deep Space Object Detection and Ranging (DART) satellite a year ago in order to test a strategy that may one day be used for the purpose of The essential information on the mission is as follows.
In 2005, Congress gave NASA the task of locating 90 percent of near-Earth asteroids that are large enough to wipe out a city, defined as having a diameter of 460 feet or more. This goal is to be accomplished by the year 2020. However, Congress did not provide NASA with a significant amount of funding in order for it to carry out that work. As a result, the mission is still more than half incomplete, and there are around 15,000 more asteroids of this kind to find.
The DART mission is not analogous to the plot of the film “Armageddon.” In most cases, setting an asteroid on fire is not the best course of action to take. Instead, the purpose of the mission is to conduct a proof-of-principle demonstration to test the hypothesis that changing the orbit of an approaching asteroid by striking it with a projectile can be accomplished.
The mission’s objective is to reach Dimorphos, a tiny asteroid that has a diameter of approximately 500 feet and circles a bigger asteroid called Didymos, which has a width of nearly half a mile. Didymos and Dimorphos are separated by a distance of about one kilometre, and Dimorphos completes one circle around Didymos every eleven hours and fifty-five minutes.
DART will, in all intents and purposes, be a self-driving suicide spacecraft. It will guide itself to its destruction, and the personnel working in the mission operations centre at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland will mostly be spectators throughout this process.
It won’t be until roughly an hour before the collision that the camera on DART will recognise Dimorphos as a distinct dot from Didymos. After then, it will make several adjustments to its flight path, culminating in a spectacular collision.
If all goes according to plan, DART and Dimorphos will link, which would bring the smaller asteroid’s orbit closer to that of the bigger Didymos. The make-up and organisational structure of Dimorphos will determine the degree to which the state of affairs will shift.
If Dimorphos is solid and DART is only able to carve out a tiny crater, then the change will follow the fundamentals of a problem from Physics 101, which include two things meeting and adhering together. As a result of the fact that DART is travelling in the opposite direction as Dimorphos, it will be able to steal part of the asteroid’s angular momentum, which will lead it to get closer to Didymos and pick up speed.
If, on the other hand, Dimorphos is more comparable to a heap of rubble that is only held together by gravity, then the collision will result in the formation of a deep crater and will send a shower of debris hurtling into space. The force exerted on the asteroid by that cascade of rocks will be analogous to the thrust produced by a rocket engine. If this scenario plays out, the orbit of Dimorphos will approach Didymos at an even greater distance.
A pair of launches for the uncrewed mission Artemis I, which was supposed to begin off NASA’s return of people to the moon, had to be scrubbed on August 29 and September 3 due to technical complications that occurred during the fuelling process.
Following the successful testing of a patch for a leaky hydrogen fuel line the previous week, NASA intended to attempt another launch on Tuesday, September 27. However, because to the unfavourable weather circumstances, the agency decided to cancel the launch attempt.
Now, the organisation has to make a decision on whether or not the threat posed by Tropical Storm Ian necessitates wheeling the rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building. This building is effectively a gigantic garage where engineers work on the rocket while being protected from the weather. If NASA determines that the weather is stable enough to keep the rocket on the launchpad, then the agency may attempt the launch sometime in the first week of October. However, if the rocket were to roll away from the launchpad, the agency would likely have to wait several weeks before attempting another launch. NASA has indicated that a decision on this matter may be made on Monday.