An asteroid Dimorphos was hit by NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft on September 27. A huge trail of dust and debris was seen stretching from the asteroid after the crash. As per a BBC report, Michael Knight of the US Naval Research Laboratory has said that the trail will be monitored in the next few months. The trail is expected to get longer and disperse more.
Lowell Observatory and the US Naval Academy astronomers took this image of Dimorphos using the 4.1-metre Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope at the NOIRLab’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The image showed how the Sun’s radiation pressure has pushed the dust trail in one direction. The same phenomena happen in case of a comet.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”
As per the report, DART is a test to check how prepared humanity is to deal with a potentially destructive celestial object. The technique can be used if there is an asteroid heading for Earth at some point in the future. Mission lead Andy Rivkin described “DART as a very simple idea, ramming the spacecraft into the object you are worried about, and using the mass and speed of the spacecraft to slightly change the orbit of that object, so that it would not hit the Earth”.
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