(ORDO NEWS) — A month and a half ago, the DART probe successfully hit the 170-meter asteroid Dimorph.
Now the researchers have performed calculations to establish the best impact point for the most efficient deflection of a potentially dangerous celestial body from its orbit.
There are at least 2,200 potentially dangerous asteroids orbiting the Earth. In the event of a collision with our planet, they can cause significant damage.
Not surprisingly, this is not the first time humanity has thought about the possibility of their collision from orbit.
On the night of September 26-27 this year, for the first time in history, the DART probe hit the asteroid Dimorph at a speed of 6.6 kilometers per second.
As shown by terrestrial telescopes, the collision successfully changed Dimorph’s orbital period by 32 minutes. This is much more than experts expected.
However, now that NASA has proved the very possibility of hitting an asteroid with a projectile launched from Earth, scientists from Tsinghua University (China) have performed calculations using the Delta-V hodograph and found out where it is better to direct the kinetic impact in order to more effectively push the asteroid out of orbit.
DART collided with Dimorph in the center, head-on, but this is not the best target: calculations have shown that the deflection efficiency is higher if, when constructing the projectile trajectory, the shape of the asteroid, the material of which it is composed, and the angle at which it will be struck.
When deorbiting a nearly spherical asteroid like Bennu, the choice of impact point can increase the efficiency of deflection by one and a half times compared to a simple impact on the center.
Deflection of an elongated asteroid, such as Itokawa , would require finding the optimal rotational phase of the asteroid, which would double the impact results.
Thus, preliminary calculations and refinement of the impact point will make it possible to push even relatively large asteroids with the help of rather small space probes.
To do this, astronomers will need to not only calculate the asteroid’s orbit and the trajectory of the projectile, but also take into account a number of additional factors, ranging from the point of impact to the position of the asteroid in space.
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