Hubble and James Webb will observe NASA’s Dart hitting an asteroid

As NASA's Dart mission slams into an asteroid named Dimorphos in the coming days, three different science spacecraft, including the James Webb, will attempt to record the event.

BingMag.com Hubble and James Webb will observe NASA’s Dart hitting an asteroid

As NASA's Dart mission slams into an asteroid named Dimorphos in the coming days, three different science spacecraft, including the James Webb, will attempt to record the event.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is designed to test a planetary defense technique that could be used if a large asteroid is discovered and dangerous for Earth, to be used.

This spacecraft also carries a microsatellite to record this collision, but in addition to this instrument, three other eyes are trying to watch this collision in the sky: The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and another NASA asteroid mission named Lucy.

"Nancy Chabot" (Nancy Chabot), a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory and responsible for coordinating Dart about watching this collision with instruments "This is a unique opportunity to use all the resources to learn from this encounter," said Vafarov. Let's maximize it.

DART was launched in November 2021 and is headed for a binary asteroid system. In this asteroid system, the moon "Dimorphos" orbits the larger asteroid "Didymos" every 11 hours and 55 minutes. The test of the kinetic impact technique will be carried out on Monday, September 26 (October 4), during which the spacecraft will hit the asteroid hard to change its orbit.

Scientists plan to observe a real collision event to find In the future, how to carry out a planetary defense mission in case of an asteroid threat to Earth. Right now, neither Didymus nor Dimorphos poses a threat to Earth, and even Monday's impact won't change that.

Thanks to the LICIA small satellite, the mission team hopes to be able to locate the impact site just three minutes after the operation. to observe The European Space Agency will also send a separate mission called Hera to space from the end of 2026 to study this region in detail. The help of a telescope in space is definitely a nice bonus. Therefore, NASA will direct the veteran Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which began operations this summer, to Dart to record the results of the collision, which will take place at 19:14.

DART Scientist Tom Statler also mentioned James Webb's other challenge, which is that the telescope must regularly check the guide stars and again. be adjusted and this means that its observations may start a few minutes after the collision.

Hubble also has its own limitations, because it is on the other side of the Earth at the moment of the collision, but about 15 minutes after the collision Starts observations. Statler said in this regard: "Hubble will not actually record the exact moment of the collision. It's not a problem because we don't really expect anything to be visible from the exact moment of the collision."

Besides these two space telescopes, NASA experts have also set up instruments on the Lucy mission to be ready to observe the collision. Lucy was launched in October 2021 (1400 Mehr) to study asteroids that orbit the Sun at a similar distance to Jupiter and may hold clues to the early days of the Solar System.

Currently But the spacecraft is still close enough to Earth to make a close pass next month on its way to its target. So maybe Lucy can record the hit directly. At the time of impact, Earth will be about 11 million kilometers away from Didymus. Lucy, about twice as far away, is watching the encounter from a different angle.

Although Dart experts only need to detect changes in Dimorphos' orbit to determine whether the mission was successful, scientists also hope to learn more about other features of this asteroid moon, including its rotation and structure.

According to Thomas, in addition to the short-term consequences after the impact, the telescopes will also occasionally examine Dimorphos until the end of the year. Continuous observations from the ground will also increase.

In addition to scientists, ordinary people will also have the opportunity to watch images of the collision. NASA has set up a special video stream that will show shots of the Dimorphos dart as it hits at high speed, and will send a new image every second until the spacecraft shuts down.

Cover photo: graphic design From the binary asteroids Didymus and Dimorphos
Credit: NASA

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