Almost a year ago, the long-awaited Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) took place. Scientists successfully hit the asteroid Dimorfos with the probe and shortened its orbit around the parent asteroid Didymos. Now they noticed that something strange was happening to the asteroid.
Asteroid Dimorfos, known for the DART mission, adds a wrinkle to scientists. Its orbit keeps getting shorter. | Photo: Profimedia/ABACA/Abaca Press
A mystery that experts cannot explain. Although a year ago, it was a breakthrough success DART setting they celebrated big, now they are wondering why the asteroid is behaving differently than they expected.
On strange properties asteroid encountered a teacher at the Thacher School in California, Jonathan Swift, and his team of students studying astronomy. They noticed that the orbit of Dimorphos shortened a month after the impact. They shared their findings at the June meeting with the American Astronomical Society, which is due to publish their work soon.
Two minutes faster circulation
The team explained that a successful trajectory change was the goal of the DART mission. The asteroid’s orbit was shortened by 32 minutes after the collision, from 11 hours and 55 minutes to 11 hours and 23 minutes. However, as Swift and others reported, the asteroid’s path was unexpectedly shortened even after that.
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This points to an inexplicable turn of events. Most astronomers thought that the asteroid’s orbit would quickly return to its original speed. “We found that the runway was shortened by 34 minutes. This is a rather inconsistent result,” he said according to the portal New Scientist scientist. A month after the DART collision with the asteroid, Dimorfos was orbiting the larger body two minutes faster than immediately after the impact.
According to the scientists, the result is surprising even though, according to the original findings, the acceleration of the track has an error of plus or minus two minutes. “We tried our best to find a crack in what we did. We didn’t find anything,” Swift recounted.
The moment the probe hit the asteroid:
According to the portal, one of the explanations why the path of the asteroid shortened even a month after the impact BBC that material ejected by impact, including stones several meters long, eventually fell back onto the surface of the asteroid. Another possibility is that the asteroid is now falling because it was previously bound by gravity to a larger asteroid.
Planned mission in 2026
Additional information about what happened to the asteroid after the impact could be found out by the European Space Agency’s Hera mission, which wants to send a probe to the asteroid by 2026. Portal ExtremeTech he added that experts not only want to conduct a detailed survey of the crater created by the impact of the NASA probe, but also plan to obtain more accurate data on the mass and composition of both Dimorphos and Didymos. This data will allow astronomers to better understand how the two asteroids will continue to move through space.
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The DART mission, carried out on September 27 last year, aimed to change the direction of a space object and test the possible defense of the Earth against asteroids. By hitting a smaller asteroid, the probe really changed the orbit of Dimorfos, by “tens” of meters. The aim was also to speed up its nearly twelve-hour orbit, which was also achieved.
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