Every week in Astronomy in the News Lite, I will attempt to make a link between this and the previous full bulletin by choosing an article that from a similar scientific topic. This week, I will be looking at the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) collision with the asteroid moon Dimorphos which is orbiting the asteroid Didymos.
There are a number of articles I will be discussing today which are linked below:
I previously discussed this mission in the AITN bulletin #24. 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 Near Earth Object (NEO). After detecting and characterising any potentially hazardous NEOs, if one is on a collision course with Earth, a deflection mission would be launched. This is where DART comes into it. DART, as mentioned above, was collided with an asteroid moon (Dimorphos) with the goal of deflecting its orbit. The collision aspect of the mission was successful with a “direct hit” reported, as evidenced by the images released by NASA!
The next step to this project is to make some follow-up observations over the next few weeks to determine if and by how much the orbit of Dimorphos has changed. The smaller body is about 160km across and, prior to the collision, had a orbital period of 11.92 hours. If the mission went as expected, the new orbital period should be 11.75 hours.
Curriculum topics to be considered
Orbital physics, such as circular motion and Kepler’s Laws
Conservation of momentum