DART mission: NASA rocket impact against asteroid left 10,000 kilometer tail of debris

DART mission: NASA rocket impact against asteroid left 10,000 kilometer tail of debris

Debris from the asteroid is observed from a powerful ground-based telescope in Chile

Echoes of the accident which featured a ship of the JAR against one asteroid located 11 million kilometers away in an attempt to deflect its trajectory. The success of the darts mission was followed by thousands of people around the world who couldn’t believe how nail ship struck a celestial body at this distance as proof of a alternate plan in front of a so-called threatens of collision wing Ground.

But there weren’t only human eyes behind this historic event. The american space agency headed the “looks” of his two most important telescopes it’s up to you to observe what was the impact: the veteran Hubble and the brand new James Webb. A collision of which everyone gave their own vision with spectacular images.

Mission accomplished: the spacecraft sent by NASA to deflect the trajectory of an asteroid impacted the asteroid Dimorphos on Monday
Mission accomplished: the spacecraft sent by NASA to deflect the trajectory of an asteroid impacted the asteroid Dimorphos on Monday

Today it was also known that the powerful SOAR telescope, located in Chile, had captured the comet-like tail after the DART impact. This revealed the more than 10,000 km long debris trail from the surface of Dimorphos two days after the asteroid was struck by NASA’s DART spacecraft.

The Spacecraft DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) of NASA is deliberately crashed versus Dimorphosthe small asteroid moon of the Didymos dual asteroid system, Monday, September 26, 2022. This was the first evidence of planetary defense in which a spacecraft attempted to alter the orbit. of an asteroid by kinetic impact.

Two days after the DART collision, astronomers Teddy Kareta (Lowell Observatory) and Matthew Knight (US Naval Academy) captured the large plume of dust and debris thrown from the asteroid’s surface with the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) of 4.1 meters, at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory of NSF’s NOIRLab in Chile.

The Dart mission seeks to find an answer to the threat of a possible collision with Earth from a space body (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben/Handout via REUTERS)
The Dart mission seeks to find an answer to the threat of a possible collision with Earth from a space body (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben/Handout via REUTERS)

In this new picture, the trail of dust, the ejecta that has been expelled by radiation pressure from the Sun, similar to the tail of a comet, it can be seen to extend from the center to the right edge of the field of view, which is approximately 3.1 arc minutes at SOAR using the Goodman High Performance Spectrograph. At Didymos’ distance from Earth at the time of sighting, this would translate to at least 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) from the point of impact.

“It’s amazing how clearly we were able to grasp the structure and extent of the aftermath in the days following the impact,” Kareta said. “Now begins the next phase of work for the DART team as analyze your data and the observations of our team and other observers around the world who have shared in the study of this exciting event. We plan to use SOAR to monitor the ejection in the weeks and months to come. The combination of SOAR and AEON [2] it’s exactly what we need to effectively track the development of events like this,” Knight said.

These observations will allow researchers to better understand the nature of the surface of Dimorphos. They will be able to measure the amount of material ejected by the collision, the speed at which it was ejected and the particle size distribution in the expanding dust cloud.. For example, observations will reveal whether the impact caused the small moon to shed large chunks of material or mostly fine dust. Analyzing this data will help astronomers protect Earth and its inhabitants by better understanding the amount and nature of ejection resulting from an impact, and how it could alter an asteroid’s orbit.

Last sighting of the DART spacecraft before crashing into asteroid Dimorphos (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Handout via REUTERS)
Last sighting of the DART spacecraft before crashing into asteroid Dimorphos (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Handout via REUTERS)

SOAR observations demonstrate the capabilities of NSF-funded AURA facilities in planetary defense planning and initiatives. In the future, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, funded by the NSF and the US Department of Energy and currently under construction in Chile, will survey the solar system to search for potentially dangerous objects.

Didymos was discovered in 1996 with the University of Arizona’s 0.9-meter Spacewatch Telescope located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

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