Knowing well the impact of an asteroid collision with the Earth, NASA begins its project of precaution. NASA launches a spacecraft to test out the effect of a cosmic collision. This mission can also measure its speed and path alteration chances. The object that NASA is treating as a dummy asteroid is Dimorphos.
The Falcon 9 rocket was blasted off sharp at 6.20 am GMT on Wednesday. NASA initiated the blast in Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The purpose of the mission is to understand the possibility of protecting the planet from the collision of any celestial body. As this is the first attempt, they choose Dimorphos as it presents no threat as detected till now.
According to Kelly Fast, “Dart will only be changing the period of the orbit of Dimorphos by a tiny amount. And really that’s all that’s needed in the event that an asteroid is discovered well ahead of time”. In addition to this, the planetary defense coordination office of NASA also enlightens about the energy involved in the spacecraft mission.
Didymos (780m wide) and Dimorphos (160m wide), the former bigger than the latter, orbit each other closely. The dart mission will target the two jointly. Had Dimorphos been a threat to earth, even its smallest particle could cause damage to the level of a nuclear explosion. This undoubtedly could have caused a heap of casualties and extreme damage to continents.
Much similar to most of NASA’s rocket launches, Dart will follow an orbit after escaping the gravity of earth. Dart will revolve around the Sun and then intercept the binary. This interception will occur within 6.7 million miles by the fag end of September 2022.
The speed at which Dart will collide with the “moonlet” Dimorphos is 6.7 km/s. The hypothesis is to witness a change in the speed of the Dart. The Dart’s speed will change by a fraction of 1mm/s while it alters its orbit around Dimorphos.