The DART probe slammed into Dimorphos, which orbits a a lot bigger asteroid named Didymos, on Sept. 26. The 2 house rocks are greater than 6.5 million miles from Earth, and neither posed a risk to the planet earlier than or after the DART mission.
Previous to the spacecraft’s affect, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to circle Didymos. Utilizing ground-based telescopes on Earth, astronomers have now confirmed that the DART crash shortened Dimorphos’ orbit by 32 minutes, to 11 hours and 23 minutes (with a margin of uncertainty of round plus or minus 2 minutes, in accordance with NASA).
Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington, mentioned the discovering is a vital step towards understanding the total implications of the DART mission.
“As new knowledge are available in every day, astronomers will be capable of higher assess whether or not, and the way, a mission like DART might be used sooner or later to assist defend Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever uncover one headed our manner,” Glaze mentioned in an announcement.
Astronomers are nonetheless learning the aftermath of the cosmic smash-up at observatories world wide. Researchers are focusing, particularly, on measuring how a lot power or momentum was transferred between the 2 objects when the DART spacecraft flew head-on into Dimorphos at 14,000 mph. Scientists are additionally zeroing in on the various tons of rock and particles created by the affect, NASA officers mentioned.
The DART spacecraft launched into house in November 2020. A future mission led by the European Area Company will examine the affect crater on the asteroid and look at Dimorphos and Didymos in larger element.