NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid: Preventing recurrence of unexpected ‘raid’ on Earth in 2013


September 26, 2022 (US time) marks an important milestone in the history of NASA in particular and the history of human space exploration in general when the US space agency successfully carried out the mission: Test its Double Asteroid Redirection Experiment (DART).

This means that, for the first time in history, NASA is demonstrating an attempt to change the motion of a natural object in space, CNN comment.

This is also the first time that humans have changed the dynamics of a celestial body in a measurable way, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. This event will be the first comprehensive human demonstration of deflection technology that can protect the Earth.

Specifically, just a few hours ago, at 7 am on September 27, 2022 (in Vietnamese time),

The DART spacecraft has successfully crashed into an asteroid called Dimorphos with a terrible speed of 21,599 km / h, equivalent to 6,000 meters / s!

This rapid impact is expected to only change the speed of Dimorphos by 1% as it orbits Didymos. That doesn’t sound like much, but according to NASA, it would be enough to change the orbital period of Dimorphos.

“This is an amazing event. We are embarking on a new era of humanity, an era in which we have the ability to protect ourselves (Earth) from a potentially dangerous object from the Earth. space” – Lori Glaze, Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division said.

A close-up of the asteroid Dimorphos seconds before the DART spacecraft plunges in. Source: NASA

The asteroid Dimorphos is about 11,000,000 km from Earth. And the DART spacecraft has had to travel for nearly a year in space to reach its target, since DART was launched on November 23, 2021 atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex. Space Force 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, USA.

Although the asteroid Dimorphos poses no threat to Earth, this ambitious mission is a simulation of what NASA scientists would do if an asteroid struck and threatened Earth. .

The Didymos system was discovered in 1996. However, humans had never seen the Dimorphos binary asteroid system – a small lunar asteroid orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos – just before the spacecraft. DART rushes to it. Because this asteroid system appears only as a single bright spot in ground-based telescopes.

Didymos, which means “twin” in Greek, is about 780 meters in diameter. Meanwhile, Dimorphos is 160 meters across and its name in Greek means “two shapes”.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

Light from the asteroid Didymos and its lunar glow (smaller, Dimorphos) can be seen in a compilation of 243 images taken by the DART spacecraft’s DRACO surveillance camera on July 27. Source: NASA

The reason, Dimorphos was chosen for testing because its size is relatively similar to asteroids that could be a threat to Earth in the future.

According to NASA, this experiment uses the technique of “dynamic impact” – a method of deflecting an asteroid / meteorite to protect our Earth from the stalking of space objects.

According to NASA, there are a large number of near-Earth asteroids – more than 27,000 asteroids – of all shapes and sizes. Therefore, the potential dangers from them cannot be denied.


In fact,

The DART spacecraft is about 100 times smaller than Dimorphos in size, so it cannot obliterate the asteroid.

Instead, scientists hope the DART collision could change the asteroid’s speed and path through space.

The DART engineering team compared the collision to a golf cart crashing into one of the Great Pyramids of Giza – in the hope of having enough energy to create an impact crater.

“We hope this historic nudge will slightly alter Dimorphos’s orbit and bring it into a more gravitational orbit with Didymos, the larger asteroid in this binary system.” engineer said.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

An illustration of the Dimorphos and Didymos binary asteroid system. Source: Johns Hopkins APL / NASA

“The smaller asteroid Dimorphos takes 11 hours and 55 minutes to complete an orbit around Didymos. If the DART is successful, that time could be reduced by 73 seconds, but we really think we will change the interval by about 73 seconds. That’s 10 minutes less,” said Edward Reynolds, DART project manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


DART mission engineers say it will take two months to get actual images and quantitative data on the impact of the collision.

The DART team is expecting images to return to Earth from CubeSat, an Italian Space Agency briefcase-sized satellite that has made a trip with DART into space. It separated from the spacecraft on September 11, 2022, and was moving behind to document the aftermath of the collision from a safety perspective.

Three minutes after impact, another satellite called LICIACube will record images and video of the collision beam and possibly even spy on the impact crater. The first images expected to return from LICIACube may show the moment of impact and the beam it produced.

Some of the initial images of the collision could be released over the next and next day from the CubeSat satellite, said Elena Adams, DART mission systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


After DART’s successful collision with the asteroid Dimorphos, the science has only just begun!

– On the ground

Ground-based observatories around the world play an important role in observing the asteroid system as a way to confirm whether DART has successfully altered the asteroid’s motion.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

This illustration depicts NASA’s DART spacecraft, and the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite, before the Didymos asteroid system. The asteroid Dimorphos is on the left. Source: Steve Gribben / Johns Hopkins APL / NASA / AP

– In space

Meanwhile, a series of James Webb Space Telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will also observe the collision between the DART spacecraft and the asteroid Dimorphos.

For a more detailed look at this man-made collision, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will conduct a follow-up investigation of Dimorphos and the larger asteroid in the system, Didymos .

Specifically, the Hera mission will launch in 2024. This spacecraft, along with two CubeSats satellites, will arrive at the asteroid system (including Dimorphos and Didymos) 2 years later.

Hera will study asteroids, measure Dimorphos’ physical properties and examine the DART crater and Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos, with the aim of establishing an effective future Earth defense strategy. than.


DART is the world’s first planetary defense test mission, intentionally performing a kinetic impact on the asteroid Dimorphos to slightly alter its motion through space.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland (USA) manages the DART mission for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Office of Planetary Missions Programs.

Although the DART mission is organized by NASA and managed by the Applied Physics Laboratory of John Hopkins University (USA), its success has been greatly contributed by more than 1,000 scientists and engineers. monks from all over the world for 7 years.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft sits amid a Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on November 16, 2021. Source: Ed Whitma/Johns Hopkins APL/NASA

The ‘companion’ of the DART (car-sized) spacecraft is the LICIACube satellite. This is technology made by the Italian Space Agency.

LICIACube was programmed to capture the effects of the DART impact, capturing unique images of the asteroid’s surface as well as the debris ejected from the newly formed impact crater using its two optical cameras. : LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) and LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid). Each camera will collect scientific data to inform the microsatellite’s autonomous system by finding and tracking Dimorphos throughout the DART encounter.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

DART team engineers lift and test LICIACube in August 2022. The miniature satellite will provide footage of the collision. Source: Ed Whitman / Johns Hopkins APL / NASA

The LICIACube project alone is managed by the ASI Robotic Exploration Mission Office, with industrial contractor Argotec SrI and a scientific team from the National Institute of Astrophysics, Polytechnic University of Milan, University of Bologna, University Naples Parthenope, and the National Research Council of the Institute of Applied Physics “Nello Carrara” of Italy.


For years, NASA and other space organizations around the world have worked hard to better understand the threat posed by near-Earth asteroids – and how to deflect them.

Earth has witnessed many times being hit by meteorites / asteroids:

– The most famous incident is thought to be 66 million years ago when a city-sized asteroid hit the shallows off Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, killing three-quarters of Earth’s species.

Here are the modern times when asteroids hit Earth, with real consequences.

– In 1908, a powerful asteroid crashed into the remote Tunguska forest in Russian Siberia. This event leveled trees and destroyed forests on an area of ​​770 square miles, equivalent to three-quarters of the area of ​​the US state of Rhode Island.

NASA spacecraft crashes into asteroid Preventing recurrence of unexpected raid on Earth in 2013 | Discover

The Tunguska Incident leveled trees and destroyed forests over 770 square miles. Photo: Wikipedia

– In 2013, an asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia. It exploded in midair, releasing 20 to 30 times more energy than the first atomic bombs, producing a luminosity greater than the Sun, emitting heat, damaging more than 7,000 buildings and more. 1,000 people were injured. The shock wave broke windows 93 km away. The thing is, this asteroid was not detected before!

The mission DART was born is hoped to prevent the past from repeating on Earth.

Articles using the source:

CNN, NASA, Space

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