DART Team Verifies Targeted Asteroid’s Orbit

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The DART investigation team recently finished a six-night observation campaign using some of the most powerful telescopes in the world to verify earlier calculations of the orbit of Dimorphos, the asteroid target for DART, around its larger parent asteroid, Didymos. This confirmed the location the asteroid is anticipated to be in at the time of impact. DART, the first attempt ever made to alter the speed and course of an asteroid’s motion in space, tests an asteroid deflection technique that would be beneficial in the event that planetary defense is ever required.

According to Andy Rivkin, a co-lead on the DART investigation team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, “the team’s measurements in early 2021 were crucial for ensuring that DART arrived at the right place and time for its kinetic impact into Dimorphos.” We don’t need to modify our route; new observations that confirm those metrics demonstrate that we are already on the right track.

To ensure DART’s impact, for example, it is crucial to comprehend the mechanics of Dimorphos’ orbit. If DART is successful in changing Dimorphos’ trajectory, the moonlet will approach Didymos and orbit it more quickly. It is simple to measure that change, but researchers must be certain that the orbit is only being affected by the hit. This includes more subdued forces like radiation recoil from the Sun-warmed surface of the asteroid, which can gently press on the asteroid and alter its orbit.


Ali Esen

Istanbul University, Department of Mathematics. Interested in science and technology.