Tonight, September 27th, NASA’s DART mission plans to deorbit asteroid Dimorph with a $330 million probe. The spacecraft will crash into it at a speed of 6.6 km/s.
The purpose of this experiment is to find out if there is a way in the arsenal of mankind to protect the Earth from the fall of large space objects. It will be possible to follow the collision online, using the broadcast of the Virtual Telescope Project. It starts on September 27 at 01:30 Moscow time.
Of course, you should not expect a spectacle of the level of Hollywood blockbusters. From Earth, the asteroid Dimorph, about 11 million km away, is visible only as a dot in the night sky. However, if the collision goes according to NASA’s plan, then a sharp increase in the brightness of this point can be noticed.
A much more visual video of the impact will follow later — it should be recorded by the LUCIACube observation satellite, released by the probe a few days ago — it will have a better view.
Recall that Dimorph is a satellite of the asteroid Didyma, with a diameter of about 160 meters. The DART mission was launched last November specifically for this experiment. Scientists have chosen Dimorph as a target for a reason: the size of the satellite is large enough to cause great damage if a similar object falls to Earth.
In 2024, ESA astronomers plan to send the Hera robot to Dimorph, which will study in detail the traces of a collision with a space probe.
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