DART is known to hit a 160-meter-wide asteroid as part of a test of Earth’s defense strategy against the asteroid threat.
The dramatic impact sparked much online speculation that NASA may have accidentally sent the harmless space rock to Earth.
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However, the mission team claims to have done the calculations and claim that it is not possible that the lethal immersion of DART could alter the orbits of Dimorphos and Didymos.
Dimorphos and Didymos are a pair of asteroids orbiting the Sun. The only orbit that will be measurably altered by DART is the orbit of Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting Didymos in a big way.
According to the scientists, the binary nature of the Didymos system acts as a safety brake against unwanted orbital changes.
“We move the little boy, but the big boy is like an anchor. He holds him back,” said Andy Cheng, chief planetary defense scientist at the Johns Hopkins University (APL) Applied Physics Laboratory.
“The orbit of the entire system around the Sun changes by such a small amount that it is difficult to measure.”
The Didymos system, while technically classified as a potentially dangerous asteroid, is actually not of much concern to planetary defense experts.
“The closest distance [dari sistem asteroid biner Didymos] to Earth’s orbit is still on a scale of several million miles. It’s not even a threat, “said Tom Statler, a NASA planetary scientist
He said nothing would happen to the asteroid which would end up being a threat to human life on Earth.
Astronomers modeled the orbits of asteroids in the following centuries. But this orbit has shifted due to the gravitational pull of giant solar system planets like Jupiter and Saturn.
This change is believed to be very slow, but there is a possibility that one day an asteroid that is currently not of concern will become a threat.
While no asteroid poses a threat to Earth in the future, space agencies around the world want to make sure they know how to prevent such a space rock from hitting Earth.
A space rock the size of Dimorphos would not lead to the path that would have led to the extinction of the dinosaur species due to the impact of an asteroid 10 kilometers wide.
However, a rock the size of Dimorphos will cause great devastation in the region it falls into, according to reports NASA.
“Self [asteroid sebesar Dimorphos] fall in the city of London, windows will break across South East England and damage in some areas [London Raya] it would be very extreme, ”said Gareth Collins, professor of planetary science at Imperial College London Space.com.
“There will be no survivors in central London because of the impact itself and also because of the severity of the blast.”
Such an asteroid impact would produce a crater more than 1.6 kilometers wide and more than 370 meters deep, destroying buildings tens of miles from ground zero.
The rock will likely explode close to the ground before its remnants hit the planet’s surface and cause extreme warming that would melt the soil and cause fires in the area closest to the explosion.
“If the asteroid fell into the ocean, it would generate a very large tsunami wave,” said Collins, who and his colleagues have created a platform that allows researchers and the public to explore asteroid impacts of any size.
“But if it occurs deep in the ocean, the wave will dissipate into a wave with a low enough amplitude before it reaches the shore,” he added.
However, if such a rock were to fall into the sea near the shore, the impact would be devastating. So while the chances of an asteroid hitting a major city are slim, planetary defenders want to have the technology at their fingertips to ward off any eventuality.