(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will deliberately crash into the asteroid Dimorph, a satellite of the asteroid Didyma, on September 26.
Although Dimorph does not pose a threat to Earth, scientists will conduct the world’s first test of the kinetic impact method, using a spacecraft to deorbit an asteroid to protect the planet.
This image of Didymos and Dimorphus is a composite of 243 images taken by Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) on July 27, 2022.
Navigation camera experts doubted whether DRACO could detect the asteroid from about 32 million kilometers away.
But after 243 images taken by DRACO during the observations were combined, the team was able to find the asteroid and determine its location.
“This first set of images is being used as a test to test our imaging technique,” said Elena Adams, a DART systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.
“The image quality is similar to what we could get with ground-based telescopes, but it’s important for us to make sure that DRACO is working correctly and seeing its target and making the necessary adjustments before we start using the images to guide the spacecraft into the asteroid autonomously.” “.
In the last four hours before the impact, DART will have to independently navigate in space in order to successfully affect the Dimorph without human intervention.
Using observations made every 5 hours, the DART team will perform three corrective maneuvers over the next three weeks to achieve the necessary trajectory for the collision.
After conducting the final maneuver on September 25, about a day before impact, the navigation team will know the exact position of the Dimorph within 2 kilometers. From there, DART will operate on its own.
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