Since the spaceship Arrow (Double Asteroid Reorientation Test) of Container deliberately collided with asteroid mole Dimorphic On Sept. 26 — changing its orbit in 33 minutes — the research team was examining the implications for how this planetary defense technology could be used in the future, should the need arise. This involved a more detailed analysis of the “ejecta” – the many tons of asteroid rock that had been dislodged by the impact and hurled into space – whose bounce greatly increased the thrust. Arrow against Dimorphic.
Continuous observations of the evolving ballistics allowed the research team to better understand the spacecraft Arrow I reached the crash site. Team members Arrow They presented a preliminary interpretation of their findings during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Chicago.
What can we learn from the mission? Arrow It is part of the general work of Container To understand asteroids “And other small bodies in our solar system,” program scientist Tom Statler said in a statement. Arrow at headquarters Container In Washington, as one of the speakers at the press conference. effect with asteroid It was just the beginning. We are now using the observations to study what these objects are made of and how they were formed, as well as how to defend our planet in case asteroid We’re heading on our way.”
At the heart of the effort is a detailed post-impact science and engineering analysis of data from the world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration. In the weeks following the impact, the scientists focused on measuring the transfer of momentum from the collision Arrow with him asteroid Aim for approximately 22,530 kilometers per hour.
Scientists estimate that effect Arrow It pushed more than a thousand tons of dusty rock into space, enough to fill six or seven train cars. The team is using this data – as well as new information about the asteroid’s moon composition and ballistics properties, obtained from Telescopic observations and images of the Light Italian CubeSat taking pictures of the asteroids (LICIACube)provided by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) – To find out how much the asteroid moved at the initial impact to Arrow How much was due to recoil.
“We know the initial experiment worked. Now we can start applying that knowledge,” said Andy Rifkin, co-leader of the research team. Arrow at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). “Study the projectiles produced in kinetic impact – they are all derived from Dimorphic– is an essential way to obtain more information about the nature of its surface.”
Observations made before and after the impact reveal this Dimorphic so is it asteroid The larger Didymos has a similar structure and is composed of the same material, which is the material that regular chondrites have been attached to, similar to the most common type of meteorite that strikes Earth. These measurements also made use of ballistics Dimorphicwhich dominated the light reflected from the system in the days after the collision. So far, telescopic images of the Didymos system show how solar radiation pressure stretched the jet stream into a comet-like tail tens of thousands of kilometers long.
The ejected material helped move the asteroid
Putting all these pieces together and assuming that Didymos and Dimorphic have the same densities, the team calculates that momentum is transferred when Arrow collided Dimorphic It was approximately 3.6 times larger than if it were asteroid It would have simply sucked the ship in and not produced any projectiles, indicating that the projectile helped move the ship. asteroid over ship.
Accurate prediction of momentum transfer is critical to planning a future kinetic impact mission, should it ever be required, including determining the size of the affected spacecraft and estimating the amount of time required to ensure a small deviation deflects a potentially dangerous asteroid from its path.
“Momentum transfer is one of the most important things we can measure, because it’s the information we need to develop a scattering effect task asteroid Andy Cheng, head of the research team, said: Arrow From Johns Hopkins APL. Understanding how the impact of a spacecraft will change the momentum of a spacecraft asteroid It is key to designing a mitigation strategy for a planetary defense scenario. “
Neither Dimorphic Didymos pose no danger to Earth before or after a controlled impact Arrow with Dimorphic. (Europe Press)
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