Next Monday a terrestrial ship will crash into an asteroid about 11 million kilometers from Earth, but there is nothing to fear. The asteroid poses no danger to our planet and the crash is premeditated. In fact, the mission is a test to see if we can use this technique in the future against other asteroids that may pose a danger.
The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection) mission is our first attempt to deliberately alter the orbit of an object in the cosmos. Built by the Johns Hopkins University Physics Laboratory, the spacecraft is the size of a car and will try to deflect the small asteroid Dimorphos by smashing into it. Dimorphos is the smallest of a binary asteroid system called Didymos. Obviously, DART won’t survive the impact, but that’s part of the plan
Didymos, which is the Greek term for twin, measures 780 meters in diameter. Dimorphos (Greek name for two forms) measures 160 meters in diameter. It also has a small moon called Didymoon orbiting Didymos every 11.9 hours.
Didymos and Dimorphos do not suppose no danger for Earth. They’re not a hazard now, and they won’t be after impact. If NASA chose this particular asteroid system, it is because they are ideal for this experiment.. If all goes well, the impact will alter the small moon’s speed by just a fraction, but its orbital period will be affected by several minutes, which is perfectly observable and measurable from Earth. That alteration in the orbital period is what will allow us to deflect an asteroid as long as we do it early enough.
It is planned thatThe collision of the kinetic impactor against Dimorphos will take place next Monday, September 26 at 7:14 p.m. ET Time, that is, New York time. In Spain it will be 1:14 in the morning. It can be seen live from the official channel of NASA TV (on these lines). Please note that the special program on DART begins at 17:30 (23:00 in Spain) and will end with a final mission report that will begin at 20:00 (2 in the morning in Spain). [NASA TV]