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NASA releases the first image of the target

It’s getting serious for Arrow. In a few weeks, the probe is due to reach its target – literally. In the September 26 The effect on Dimorphos is planned.

Demorphos and Didymus They are binary asteroids. Didymus is with me 800 meters The diameter is larger than the two. Dimorphos has 170 meters Its diameter surrounds Didymus – thus it is his property the moon.

NASA has now released the first image of the target sent back by DART. Signed on July 27, 2022 onwards 243 single photos consist. This is how the light can be seen from Didymus, which was more than 30 million kilometers away at the time the image was taken.

NASA is taking these images to test the DART camera system. It’s not about taking great pictures – a quality similar to the images now published can be achieved using telescopes on Earth. It’s about testing whether DART can see its target and whether the system needs to be reset before it starts.

DART is supposed to make the target approach the same as possible. In the last hours before the effect, DART is complete Navigating independentlywithout human help.

3 path corrections before impact

Currently, measurement data from DART is collected every 5 hours. Based on this, NASA will send 3 course corrections to DART within the next three weeks. Each is designed to reduce the risk of losing DART to an asteroid.

The final maneuver will take place on September 25, 24 hours before the collision. By that time, the position of Demorphos . was to 2 km It is precisely defined. From here, DART will take over and independently hit the asteroid’s moon.

The DART camera will transmit images to Earth until impact. In addition, 10 days before the effect becomes smaller Cubesat chest. It will arrive about 3 minutes after impact and take pictures of the impact and ejection.

Small changes in path can be enough to protect the earth

If all goes according to plan, DART will hit the Dimorphos in the middle and advance. This is to slow down its speed, which causes The orbit around Didymus narrowed Become. This in turn has an effect on Didymos’ trajectory due to gravity.

This deviation from the original trajectory is expected to be minimal. But over the years it will only get bigger. The idea behind it: If an asteroid is detected in a crash path on Earth and hits at the right time, its path can be modified so that land lost. Depending on the size of the asteroid, this should happen several years to decades before the expected impact on Earth.

HERA is investigating whether the DART technique is working

In any case, Didymos poses no danger, it was chosen only as a training target to test the defense potential of this asteroid in practice.

It is likely that the first data on whether the effect has achieved the desired effect will be available in early October. The European Space Agency’s spacecraft is supposed to provide more accurate data Hira receipt. The probe will start in 2024 and is scheduled to start in Didymos in the year 2027 Reach. You’ll look at the impact crater and the effects on the asteroid’s path.

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