Telescopes around the world are watching when a NASA spacecraft intentionally crashes into an asteroid in September 2022..
Astronomers have used it Extremely large telescope of the Observatory in Chile. The newly released results show detailed images of debris moving away from the impact created by the double asteroid redirection test.
DART spacecraftweighing approximately 1,200 pounds (544 kg), crashed directly asteroid Dimorphos at a speed of 13,000 miles per hour (20,921 km/h) in an attempt to change the direction of the meteorite.
Debris cloud created by DART impact.
Astronomers used the Extremely Large Telescope in Chile to monitor the debris cloud created by the DART impact.
The results showy, this kinetic impact technology could be used to deflect asteroids that may be about to collide with Earth. Neither Dimorphos nor the larger asteroid it orbits, called Didymos, poses a threat to Earth.
The DART impact was successful, changing the orbital period of Dimorphos around Didymos. However, this test, which took place 11.3 million kilometers from Earth, also released tons of material into space.
Astronomers used the Extremely Large Telescope to study the aftermath of the event. The lead author of the study – astronomer Cyrielle Opitom, from the University of Edinburgh (UK) – said: “Asteroid impacts happen naturally, but you never know. DART is a great opportunity to conduct controlled impact research, almost like in a laboratory.
Optitom and his colleagues monitored the debris cloud from the collision for a month using The Telescope’s Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer, also known as MUSE.
The initial cloud of rocks and debris blown off Dimorphos’ surface appears to be made of fine particles. A few days later, the team tracked other structures in the debris cloud, such as clusters and swirls of larger particles, as well as a long comet-like tail behind the asteroid.
The MUSE tool allows researchers to look at clouds through a rainbow of light to look for telltale signs of chemicals and gases. However, the team detected no signs of water or oxygen.
“Asteroids are not expected to contain significant amounts of ice. So discovering the slightest trace of water would be a real surprise. » » said Ms. Opitom. The team also monitored traces of the DART spacecraft itself, including the booster it used to get to the asteroid.
“We know that this is far from possible, because the amount of gas remaining in the tanks from the propulsion system will not be significant. Additionally, some of them were too far away to be detected with MUSE by the time we started observing.commented the researcher.
Article source: GDTĐ
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Telescopes around the world are monitoring the event of a NASA spacecraft intentionally crashing into an asteroid in September 2022. During this process, the…