Asteroid strike! "Earthlings should sleep better," says Elena Adams

NASA's DART successfully a slammed spacecraft into an asteroid 9.6 mn km away at 22,500 kmph.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Sep 28 2022, 00:10 IST
Elena Adams
NASA has created history by conducting the world’s first planetary defence against an asteroid. (NASA)
Elena Adams
NASA has created history by conducting the world’s first planetary defence against an asteroid. (NASA)

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test also known as DART – the world's first planetary defence technology demonstration – successfully smashed a spacecraft into its target, the Asteroid Dimorphos, on September 26. The process included crashing a 570kg spacecraft into binary asteroid 65803 Didymos' moonlet Dimorphos to deflect it from its route by using kinetic impact. NASA stated that DART represents an unprecedented success for planetary defence, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity.

“Our first planetary defense test was a success and I think we can clap to that,” NASA's Adams said to applause. “I think that earthlings should sleep better. Definitely, I will,” said Elena Adams, the DART mission systems engineer at Johns Hopkins.

The official statement reads, “DART's impact with the asteroid Dimorphos demonstrates a viable mitigation technique for protecting the planet from an Earth-bound asteroid or comet, if one were discovered.” The mission has proved that Nasa can navigate a spacecraft to deflect an asteroid by using a technique known as kinetic impact.

As per the report, DART has arrived at Dimorphous, 530 feet (160 meters) in diameter at about 14,000 miles per hour. However, the asteroid doesn't pose any threat to our planet.

What is Didymos?

According to Spcae.com, it's a pair of asteroids together- Didymos and Dimorphos. The latter one orbits Didymos. It rotates around its larger twin every 11 hours and 55 minutes. Didymos is a large asteroid of 2,560 feet size while Dimorphous is 530 feet. Nasa has been tracking its movement for decades.

What instrument has been used in Nasa's DART spacecraft?

Launched in November 2021, Nasa's DART mission is the first-ever space probe to demonstrate asteroid deflection by a kinetic impactor. Its main instruments are Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) navigating the spacecraft with Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation (SMART Nav) algorithms.

The DART mission is built and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), under the direction of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).

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First Published Date: 28 Sep, 00:09 IST
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