DART Success

Welcome back to the first Lite bulletin since the half-term break. As I have discussed previously, I am going to attempt to link the previous week’s bulletin to this. Last week I discussed Near Earth Objects (NEO) around our planet and one such object that will cross the orbit of Earth (as we are on the other side!). This week I will be, again, discussing DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) collision with the asteroid moon Dimorphos which is orbiting the asteroid Didymos.

The two articles I will be discussing are:



I have talked about DART in bulletin #24, along with the second Lite topic. The outline of the mission is to test Planetary Defence systems. The Planetary Defence process is designed to protect Earth from a collision with a NEO, as a result, DART was collided with an asteroid moon (Dimorphos) with the goal of deflecting its orbit.

The collision was successful, and the next step was to make follow-up observations to determine whether the orbit was altered, hence if the mission was a success. Any alterations would be determined by timing the orbital period of Dimorphos, which was originally 11 hours 55 minutes. The new timings were found to be 11 hours 23 minutes, a change of 32 minutes. This is considered a success since the predictions were for a change of 10 minutes. Since this was a test of Earth defences, this has been demonstrated to be a viable method for deflecting an Earth-bound object.

Scientists are also interested in these results for research purposes since the amount of deflection that has occurred to Dimorphos will say something about its internal composition, and they can now test the models they have produced to work this out.

Curriculum topics to be considered
Orbital physics, such as circular motion and Kepler’s Laws
Conservation of momentum

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