The spaceship, in September, must collide with an asteroid to save Earth;
It is estimated that a celestial body may collide with our planet in the future;
However, the “jag” can be more violent than expected and distort the celestial body.
A spacecraft, in September of this year, must collide with a small asteroid called Demorphos to save Earth. The idea is to give it a “kick” in order to prevent a violent and possibly fatal collision in the future between it and our planet.
The mission called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is led by NASA (US space agency) and launched in November 2021. Demorphos is a companion of a larger asteroid called Didymos, and in the midst of the “impact” by the spacecraft, the long-range orbit will be changed.
However, the plan may be more violent than he imagines. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Bern and the National Center for Research Competence (NCCR) PlanetS, the test can significantly distort Dimorphos.
Sabina Radokan, lead author of the study, notes that “contrary to what one might imagine when we think of an asteroid,” Demorphos “may have a very loose internal structure – like a pile of rubble – held together by gravitational interactions and small cohesive forces.”
This contrasts with what was predicted during previous DART simulations, which assumed that the celestial body has a more solid internal structure. “This could radically change the outcome of the collision, which is scheduled to occur in September,” says Radokan.
Instead of creating a small crater on the asteroid, the impact of the spacecraft – at a speed of 14,000 km / h – can completely distort it. It is also possible that Demorphos’ orbit will be severely affected and its surface is expected to eject a much larger amount of material than expected.
“One of the reasons this scenario of the loose endoskeleton has not been fully studied yet is because the necessary methods are not available,” explains Radokan. However, this is about to change. “With our new approach to modeling, which takes into account shock wave propagation, pressure and subsequent material flow, we were able for the first time to model the entire drilling process from impacts on asteroids as small as Demorphos.”
In 2024, the European Space Agency will send a space probe to the asteroid to visually investigate the consequences of the DART effect.
This is the first large-scale planetary defense test against asteroid impact. Although there is no imminent danger in the current scenario, space agencies aim to study ways to defend Earth against potential collisions, after all, it is estimated that sixty-six million years ago an asteroid was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
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