Analysis of data obtained over the past two weeks by the NASA research team on the DART mission showed that the collision of the space probe with Dimorph was successful – the asteroid changed the flight path.

This is the first time humanity has deliberately altered the motion of a celestial object, and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology, according to NASA’s website.

We all have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only thing we have. This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for everything that the universe presents us with. NASA has proven that we are serious about protecting the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity.

Bill Nelson

head of NASA

Image: Dart.jhuapl.edu

Prior to impact with the DART probe, Dimorph took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger parent asteroid Didyma. After the impact on September 26, astronomers used telescopes on Earth to measure how much the flyby time had changed. It turned out that the collision reduced Dimorph’s orbit from 11 hours 55 minutes to 11 hours 23 minutes. This measurement has an error of approximately plus or minus 2 minutes.

NASA has determined the minimum successful change in Dimorph’s orbital period to be 73 seconds or more. Current data show that DART has exceeded this benchmark by more than 25 times.

The research team is still collecting data from ground-based observatories and radars around the world to improve the accuracy of the new orbit estimate.

This image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on October 8, 2022 shows debris ejected from Dimorph’s surface 285 hours after the impact. The shape of this tail has changed over time. Image: NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble

Now the focus is on measuring the momentum transfer efficiency when the DART collides with its target at a speed of approximately 22,530 km/h. This includes further analysis of the “blowout” – tons of asteroid rock dislodged and ejected into space by the impact.

To understand the recoil effect of the ejection, more information is needed about the physical properties of the asteroid, such as its surface characteristics. Researchers are now investigating this issue.

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