NASA has released the first images of the collision of the DART spacecraft with the asteroid Demorphos. The collision, which occurred on Tuesday, Polish time, was a key stage in the first-ever test of Earth’s defense against potential threats from cosmic rocks coming to our planet. The experiment aims to show how the impact of a chariot sent from Earth can change the course of the celestial body. The images were taken by the LICIACube probe built by the Italian Space Agency.
The “special photographer” of the DART mission, LICIACube mini-satellite The Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging Asteroids traveled most of the trip aboard the probe itself. It was released from it with the help of a spring mechanism exactly 15 days before the effect. Its trajectory was planned so that it would pass the Dimorphos about 3 minutes after the collision.
It was his job Photographic documentation of the collision itself, as well as the resulting dust cloud and the crater itself. Dimorphos were also supposed to be depicted from the back, invisible to DRACO.
All this is not only to confirm the success of the mission, but also to help verify the predictions of previous computer simulations. LICIACube is equipped with two optical cameras for this purpose: LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) and LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid).
despite The DART probe has already broken, and the experiment is in progress. Only now will it be possible to accurately assess the effects of the impact, and verify to what extent reality will confirm the predictions of computer models regarding the possibility of changing the course of an object that might threaten the Earth.
The target has been selected Asteroid DemorphosHe is like the moon of a larger cosmic rock – Didymus. So far, the smallest has orbited the largest at 11 hours and 55 minutes. According to the simulation, after impact, the rotation period should decrease by about 10 minutes.
It will be possible to verify this directly from Earth with the help of telescopes. The Didymus-Demorphos pattern appears in them as a single point, but when smaller rocks pass in front of the larger rock, the brightness of this pattern changes periodically. Telescopic observations will allow you to determine the period of the orbit and see how much it has changed.
“Infuriatingly humble musicaholic. Problem solver. Reader. Hardcore writer. Alcohol evangelist.”