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NASA's "Dart" mission: "That was revenge for the extinction of the dinosaurs"


NASA slammed a probe into an asteroid to knock it out of its current orbit. How did the experiment go?

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Can humanity deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth?

NASA tested this for the first time on Tuesday night.

A probe equipped with a camera deliberately rammed an asteroid.

Christoph Seidler, DER SPIEGEL: »One could say that it was revenge for the dinosaurs.

Because 65 million years ago an asteroid crashed into the earth.

And that played a key role in the dinosaurs becoming extinct.

One wanted to think about what we humans actually do when we are again in such a situation that an asteroid threatens to fall on earth, which we have already seen with telescopes out there in space.

Is there a way to prevent him from meeting us here on Earth?”

After its launch last November, the probe headed directly to the asteroid Dimorphos, which is more than 10 million kilometers away and has a diameter of around 160 meters.

Christoph Seidler, DER SPIEGEL: »For their experiment, Nasa chose an asteroid that is definitely not dangerous for us.

Because it won't hit us in the foreseeable future and because it won't hit us even after the distraction caused by the crash.

But the fact of the matter is that if an asteroid this size, i.e. the size of a football stadium – ESA has illustrated it with the size of the Colosseum in Rome – if it were to fall to earth, it would be quite dramatic and could turn a metropolitan area into rubble and lay ashes."

There is currently no known asteroid that could hit the earth directly in the foreseeable future.

The scientists hope to be able to measure a first result in the next few months: The impact should change Dimorphos' orbit around the asteroid Didymos slightly: The orbital period of just under twelve hours is to be shortened by up to ten minutes.

What does the experiment say specifically about a potential salvation of the earth?

It will probably take a while to answer that.

Christoph Seidler, DER SPIEGEL: “A European probe, which will be called Hera, will probably fly out in two years to take a closer look at the impact site.

And this probe should provide very important information.

It's supposed to tell us how heavy the asteroid actually was where the DART probe hit tonight.

Because only with this information can you actually calculate how effective this method is in deflecting the asteroid with a targeted impact.”

It will be at least four years before the Hera probe provides information about the mass of the asteroid.

Only then is it certain whether the actual goal of the NASA experiment has been achieved.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-09-27

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