NASA Science Live: We’re Crashing a Spacecraft into an Asteroid…on Purpose! | Summary and Q&A

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November 23, 2021
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NASA
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NASA Science Live: We’re Crashing a Spacecraft into an Asteroid…on Purpose!

TL;DR

NASA's DART mission aims to test a planetary defense technique by crashing a spacecraft into the moonlit dimorphose asteroid to potentially change its trajectory and show that deflection is possible.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why is the DART mission important?

The DART mission is crucial as it will be humanity's first attempt to deflect an asteroid. Testing this technique now will help us prepare for the future and protect Earth from potential dangers.

Q: Can the impact of DART cause unintended consequences?

No, the choice of the binary asteroid system, didimos and dimorphose, ensures that there is no risk of unintended consequences. The impact will only change the orbit of dimorphose slightly, with no significant impact on the overall system.

Q: How do we know the composition of the asteroids?

While we know that dynamos is an S-type asteroid, the exact composition of dimorphose is not known yet. However, based on the binary nature of the system, its composition is likely similar to dynamos.

Q: How often do asteroid impacts occur in our solar system?

Asteroid impacts occur regularly in our solar system, with examples of impacts on planets like Jupiter and Mars. On Earth, smaller asteroids enter the atmosphere and burn up frequently. Large impacts are rare but have occurred in the past.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The DART mission will crash a spacecraft into the dimorphose asteroid to demonstrate the ability to deflect incoming asteroids and protect Earth from potential threats.

  • The spacecraft carries instruments like DRACO, a camera, and SMART NAV, an algorithm, to target and impact the asteroid accurately.

  • By impacting dimorphose, DART will change its orbit, providing valuable data on asteroid deflection techniques.

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