Launched in November 2021, the spacecraft will hit the asteroid when it completes its journey and will try to change its trajectory with its speed.
This test will be conducted on the asteroid Dimorphos, 11 million kilometers from Earth. NASA stated that Dimorphos does not pose any danger to Earth, and this attempt will not direct the asteroid towards us.
Also known as ‘NASA’s earth-saving project’, the DART mission aims to identify the challenges of preventing a large-scale asteroid from colliding with Earth.
The moment of impact is expected at 02:14 on Tuesday morning. Many telescopes, including the James Webb telescope, will be watching this moment. We’ve seen scenes like this in movies, but NASA will find out if it’s actually possible to protect Earth from the impact of a deadly asteroid.
Scientists think that changing the speed of asteroids, which can be characterized as the remains of the building blocks that make up the Solar System, by a very small amount is sufficient for this process.
In this way, he states that asteroids will pass without hitting the Earth. Of course, this process needs to be done when the asteroid is still far enough from Earth. The Dual Asteroid Orientation Test (DART) will hit Dimorphos, 160 meters in diameter, at 20,000 kilometers per hour.
Thus, Dimorphos’ orbit around the larger, 780-metre-diameter asteroid Didymos will change very slightly. With this small change, the danger of the object hitting the Earth will be eliminated.
There are at least 26,000 asteroids that are considered to be dangerous to Earth. Even one of these crossing paths with Earth could spell disaster.
NASA thinks that the 570-kilogram DART can produce extraordinary photos from the moment it crashed into Dimorphos. of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which led the DART mission. “DART is the first planetary defense attempt to strike an asteroid,” Nancy Chabot says.
“In reality, if such a procedure were to be made, it could be done long before the asteroid becomes dangerous, and small changes in the asteroids’ trajectory would be achieved.”
Experts also talk about the difficulties of hitting Dimorphos. DART will only be able to distinguish Dimorphos from Didymos in the last 50 minutes of his journey. Within that short time, the spacecraft’s navigation software will need to quickly determine the right direction.
The scientist working in the DART Program, Dr. “Considering the speed of light and the distance, this process has to be done very quickly. For example, a pilot does not have time to control the spacecraft,” says Tom Statler. He continues:
The DART mission, which stands for ‘Double Asteroid Redirection Test’ or ‘Double Asteroid Redirection Test’, emerged as a result of NASA’s search for defense against these asteroids.
“That’s why we developed software that can interpret images captured by the spacecraft and identify the target accordingly.”
DART will send a photo per second to Earth as it moves towards the asteroid. The target, initially seen as a very distant point, will grow larger and cover the entire lens just before impact.
At the same time, an Italian-made LiciaCube nano-satellite, weighing 14 kilograms, carried via DART and released into space a few days ago, will photograph the crater created by the spacecraft in Dimorphos.
Photos taken by LiciaCube will reach the world in the coming days. “LiciaCube will pass by Dimorphos three minutes after DART’s impact,” says Simone Pirrotta of the Italian Space Agency.
“LiciaCube will track particles scattered from the surface of Dimorphos by the impact of the impact, thereby calculating the extent to which the meteorite’s trajectory has changed.”
It currently takes 11 hours 55 minutes for Dimorphos to complete its orbit around Didymos. After the impact, this time is expected to decrease to 11 hours and 45 minutes.
Experts say that thanks to sky research and statistical analysis, 95 percent of asteroids that could destroy all life if they hit the Earth have been detected and that they do not pose any danger.
But there may be smaller yet undetected asteroids that could have huge impacts on humanity. If an asteroid like Dimorphos hits the Earth, a crater 1 kilometer in diameter and hundreds of meters deep will form, and the impact will be quite large.
Four years from now, three European Space Agency spacecraft will carry out follow-up studies at Didymos and Dimorphos on a mission called Hera.