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In the first-of-its kind NASA’s DART Mission is about to hit a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away.


GS II: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About NASA’s DART Mission
  2. Why Dimorphos?
  3. Why such mission?

About NASA’s DART Mission

  • The mission’s primary objective is to evaluate recently created technology that would enable a spacecraft to collide with an asteroid and alter its course.
  • Since the spacecraft will be entirely destroyed, it is a suicide mission.
  • The spacecraft is aiming for a tiny moonlet dubbed Dimorphos, which is Greek for “two forms.”
  • The 160-meter-diameter spaceship is anticipated to collide with Earth when it is 11 million kilometres away.
  • The asteroid Dimorphos circles Didymos, which is Greek for “twin,” and has a diameter of 780 metres.

Why Dimorphos?

  • Since Didymos is an eclipsing binary with a moonlet that orbits the asteroid on a regular basis, it is the ideal system for the test mission.
  • When it moves in front of the primary asteroid, it can be seen.
  • This brightness variation can be investigated by telescopes on Earth to determine how long it takes Dimorphos to orbit Didymos.

Why such mission?

  • Dimorphos was chosen for this mission because its size is relative to asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth.
  • The spacecraft is about 100 times smaller than Dimorphos, so it won’t obliterate the asteroid.
  • The fast impact will only change Dimorphos’ speed as it orbits Didymos by 1%, which doesn’t sound like a lot — but it will change the moon’s orbital period.

-Source: Indian Express

November 2023