Explained: How NASA’s DART mission will hit and deflect an asteroid

What is the News?

NASA will launch its first planetary defense test mission, named the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

What is the DART Mission?

DART is the first technology demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique. If successful, this technique could be used to mitigate the threat ​​in case an asteroid heads towards Earth in the future.

What will the DART mission do?

The mission will test this newly developed technology by allowing a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and change its course.

After the spacecraft has collided with the asteroid, scientists will study its impact on the trajectory of the asteroid with a range of telescopes deployed on different regions of the planet.

This study will help scientists understand whether the kinetic effect of a spacecraft impact could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

Which asteroid will be deflected by the mission?

The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”). Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”).

Why was Dimorphos chosen?

Firstly, the Didymos and Dimorphos do not pose any threat to Earth.

Secondly, Didymos is an eclipsing binary, which means it has a moonlet that regularly orbits the asteroid, and scientists can see it when it passes in front of the main asteroid. Due to this, Earth-based telescopes can make the most precise measurement possible.

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: How NASA’s DART mission will hit and deflect an asteroidpublished in Indian Express on 13th November 2021.

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