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FEATURED BREAKING NASA REPORT: DART Mission Hits Asteroid in First-Ever Planetary Defense Test

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#AceBreakingNews – After 10 months of flying in space, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration – successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday, the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in space.

Asteroid moonlet Dimorphos as seen by the DART spacecraft 11 seconds before impact.

Mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, announced the successful impact at 7:14 p.m. EDT.

As a part of NASA’s overall planetary defense strategy, 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.

“At its core, DART represents an unprecedented success for planetary defense, but it is also a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”

DART targeted the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, a small body just 530 feet (160 meters) in diameter. It orbits a larger, 2,560-foot (780-meter) asteroid called Didymos. Neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth.

The mission’s one-way trip confirmed NASA can successfully navigate a spacecraft to intentionally collide with an asteroid to deflect it, a technique known as kinetic impact.

The investigation team will now observe Dimorphos using ground-based telescopes to confirm that DART’s impact altered the asteroid’s orbit around Didymos. Researchers expect the impact to shorten Dimorphos’ orbit by about 1%, or roughly 10 minutes; precisely measuring how much the asteroid was deflected is one of the primary purposes of the full-scale test.

“Planetary Defense is a globally unifying effort that affects everyone living on Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now we know we can aim a spacecraft with the precision needed to impact even a small body in space. Just a small change in its speed is all we need to make a significant difference in the path an asteroid travels.”

The spacecraft’s sole instrument, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO), together with a sophisticated guidance, navigation and control system that works in tandem with Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation (SMART Nav) algorithms, enabled DART to identify and distinguish between the two asteroids, targeting the smaller body.

These systems guided the 1,260-pound (570-kilogram) box-shaped spacecraft through the final 56,000 miles (90,000 kilometers) of space into Dimorphos, intentionally crashing into it at roughly 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) per hour to slightly slow the asteroid’s orbital speed. DRACO’s final images, obtained by the spacecraft seconds before impact, revealed the surface of Dimorphos in close-up detail.

Fifteen days before impact, DART’s CubeSat companion Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube), provided by the Italian Space Agency, deployed from the spacecraft to capture images of DART’s impact and of the asteroid’s resulting cloud of ejected matter. In tandem with the images returned by DRACO, LICIACube’s images are intended to provide a view of the collision’s effects to help researchers better characterize the effectiveness of kinetic impact in deflecting an asteroid. Because LICIACube doesn’t carry a large antenna, images will be downlinked to Earth one by one in the coming weeks.

“DART’s success provides a significant addition to the essential toolbox we must have to protect Earth from a devastating impact by an asteroid,” said Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer. “This demonstrates we are no longer powerless to prevent this type of natural disaster. Coupled with enhanced capabilities to accelerate finding the remaining hazardous asteroid population by our next Planetary Defense mission, the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor, a DART successor could provide what we need to save the day.”

With the asteroid pair within 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) of Earth, a global team is using dozens of telescopes stationed around the world and in space to observe the asteroid system. Over the coming weeks, they will characterize the ejecta produced and precisely measure Dimorphos’ orbital change to determine how effectively DART deflected the asteroid. The results will help validate and improve scientific computer models critical to predicting the effectiveness of this technique as a reliable method for asteroid deflection.

“This first-of-its-kind mission required incredible preparation and precision, and the team exceeded expectations on all counts,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “Beyond the truly exciting success of the technology demonstration, capabilities based on DART could one day be used to change the course of an asteroid to protect our planet and preserve life on Earth as we know it.”

Roughly four years from now, the European Space Agency’s Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both Dimorphos and Didymos, with a particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and a precise measurement of Dimorphos’ mass.

Johns Hopkins APL manages the DART mission for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office.

To see the final images before DART’s impact, visit:

https://go.nasa.gov/3Rer1NW

For more information about DART, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/dart

-end- Last Updated: Sep 27, 2022: Editor: Roxana Bardan

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABC NEWS: NASA successfully launches DART spacecraft into asteroid to see if it can change its course

Play Video. Duration: 44 seconds
NASA spacecraft successfully hits asteroid in test of Earth’s defences

NASA has successfully smashed a spaceship into an asteroid in an attempt to move an asteroid in space.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test [DART] was a world-first full-scale mission to trial technology for protecting Earth from potential asteroid collisions.

But what did we learn from the mission and what happens next?

Did it work?

We know that DART smashed directly into the asteroid Dimorphos — the impact was immediately obvious with DART’s radio signal abruptly ceasing.

What’s yet to be proven is how much the collision actually shifted the moonlet’s orbital track.

DART mission to scale
The diameter of the asteroids compared with the height of buildings and length of DART spacecraft to scale.(ABC: Modified from NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)none

It will be days or even weeks to determine how much the asteroid’s path was changed, with telescopes needed to track and verify the new orbit.

The anticipated orbital shift of 1 per cent might not sound like much, but scientists have stressed it would amount to a significant change over years.

Photos of the impact were taken by a mini satellite, which was a few minutes behind. The Italian CubeSat was released from DART two weeks ago for this purpose.

What did we learn?

As the next few months pass we’ll learn more about the impact this mission actually had on the asteroid, but DART successfully hit its target, which is humanity’s first attempt at moving another celestial body.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington said the mission is globally unifying.

“Now we know we can aim a spacecraft with the precision needed to impact even a small body in space,” Dr Zurbuchen said.

“Just a small change in its speed is all we need to make a significant difference in the path an asteroid travels.”

DART has demonstrated that “we are no longer powerless to prevent this type of natural disaster,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defence Officer said.DART approaches asteroid Dimorphos, center, as larger asteroid Didymos fades away from view. (AP: ASI/NASA)none

How much did it cost?

NASA has put the entire cost of the DART project at $US330 million ($487.5 million).

This is well below many of the space agency’s most ambitious science missions.

Why did NASA do this?

Space engineers and planetary defence experts want to know more about how to deflect asteroids in the event that one is ever discovered on a collision course with Earth.

DART is the first full-scale mission to test this technology.

Rebecca Allen, an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology, said the mission will help determine how much kinetic impact is needed to measurably change the orbit of an asteroid.

“What’s incredible for us astronomers, we want to know planetary defence,” Dr Allen said.

“This vending-sized machine spacecraft, will it have enough kinetic impact to drastically or really measurably change the orbit of this asteroid? That’s what we’re trying to learn.

“The location, with where it impacted is important and speed and size of the DART spacecraft are also factors there.”‘Incredible progress’ as NASA’s spacecraft crashes asteroid

What happens next?

Elena Adams, DART Mission Systems Engineer said Dimorphos will be monitored over the next few months.

“Over the next two months we’re going to see more information from the investigation team on what what period change did we actually make,” Dr Adams said.

“That’s our number two goal, number one was hit the asteroid, which we’ve done but now number two is really measure that period change and characterise how much we actually put out.”

Jonti Horner, Professor of Astrophysics and a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland said there will be plenty to learn from this mission.

“It’s an incredible achievement, and in the weeks and months to come, we will learn a huge amount about asteroids, and about our capacity to deflect them, as a direct result of this amazing mission,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see the follow-up images from the Italian CubeSats that were flying past Dimorphos at the time of the impact.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Sept.25: 2022:

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