NASAs DART impactor shows how planetary defense can work
- If you combine that with our estimates of the motion and mass of its target asteroid, Dimorphos, then you could easily do the math and estimate how much momentum would be lost by the asteroid and what that would mean for its orbit.
- Combined with knowledge of the orientation of the spacecraft, this allows for a fantastically detailed description of the impact:The spacecraft approached the asteroid with its solar arrays canted slightly toward the surface.
- Almost immediately thereafter, the -Y solar array grazed boulder 2, with the leading edge of the -Y array contacting the surface near the base of boulder 2 in downrange direction.
- The leading edge of the +Y solar array contacted the surface of boulder 1, and this solar array directly hit boulder 1.
- Finally, the spacecraft bus hit between boulders 1 and 2.This shows that we currently have the technology needed to run an interception on a small asteroid without requiring elaborate reconnaissance in advance.
- John Timmer - Mar 1, 2023 7:04 pm UTC When the NASA DART mission slammed into a small asteroid, we knew with great precision how much the spacecraft weighed and how fast it traveled.
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