After 6 nights of continuous observation by ground-based telescopes last month, NASA confirmed that the orbit of the Didymos double asteroid system and the impact position of the DART probe will be aligned in late September, preparing to launch the world’s first space experiment to try to change the speed and path of an asteroid.
65803 Didymos is a near-Earth object belonging to an Apollo-type asteroid with a diameter of about 780 meters.
Formed a double asteroid system with another smaller companion (or satellite) “Dimorphos” about 160 meters in diameter, which was selected by NASA to test the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) object of deflection technology.
Didymos and Dimorphos were about 1,080 kilometers from Earth between late September and early October this year, when the DART probe hit Dimorphos.
If the DART probe succeeds in changing Dimorphos’ path, the small satellite will move closer to its partner Didymos, shortening its orbit.
In addition to predicting the position of the asteroid at a specific moment (including the time of the DART impact), scientists also need to confirm whether there are other factors other than the impact that affect the asteroid’s orbit, such as recoil radiation from the surface of the sun that can gently push the asteroid and cause its Orbit to be changed.
After six consecutive nights of observations by the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) and the Magellan Telescope, scientists confirmed that the orbit of the double asteroid and the impact position of the DART probe were the same as originally expected.
In October, scientists will again use telescopes around the world to calculate the new orbit of Dimorphos after the impact event, which is expected to shift by a few minutes when Dimorphos orbits Didymos.