It’s official — we’re smarter than the dinosaurs.
NASA has efficiently slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid in a historic mission that would at some point save Earth from hazardous area rocks noticed coming our approach.
Monday’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was precisely that — a take a look at — concentrating on a innocent asteroid, referred to as Dimorphos, some seven million miles from Earth.
Targeting the 530-feet-wide rock after which crashing DART into it at 4,000 miles per second is already a significant achievement, however the mission will solely be thought of a complete success if the affect has succeeded in altering the course of the asteroid’s orbit round a bigger asteroid, Didymos.
If it has, it means we have now the know-how to alter the trail of an incoming asteroid outlined as hazardous, directing it away from Earth and doubtlessly saving us from the identical destiny because the dinosaurs.
So when will we all know if the DART mission has been a whole success?
First, DART’s group on the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) might want to study information from ground-based observatories which might be tasked with monitoring Dimorphos’ path.
According to APL and JPL representatives talking at a press convention held shortly after Monday’s asteroid affect, we’re going to have to attend “about two months” for “the full quantitative answer.” However, “some pieces of the answer” are prone to trickle out quickly, probably as early as this week.
“The majority of near-Earth objects have orbits that don’t bring them very close to Earth, and therefore pose no risk of impact, but a small fraction of them — called potentially hazardous asteroids — require more attention,” JPL says on its web site. “These objects are defined as asteroids that are more than about 460 feet (140 meters) in size with orbits that bring them as close as within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit around the sun.”
NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies is consistently monitoring all identified near-Earth objects to find out the extent of affect threat. And if DART has absolutely succeeded in its mission targets, we now have the means to ship a hazardous asteroid packing.