May 20, 2024

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Something strange is happening with NASA’s asteroid crash

Something strange is happening with NASA’s asteroid crash

Rush around

Nearly a year ago, NASA successfully smashed into an asteroid for the first time, in a historic test to see if we could deflect a deadly space rock before disaster — but now, the asteroid in question is behaving strangely.

like new world ReportsIt appears that one of the teachers and his disciples have discovered the orbit of Dimorphos, the space rock bathed in the sun Double asteroid redirection test (DART) last September, it appears to have continued to slow down, unexpectedly, in the year since the spacecraft collided with it.

Jonathan Swift, a mathematics and science teacher at the Thacher School in California, and his team of student astronomers discovered Dimorphus, which… It orbits the larger near-Earth asteroid Didymos The way our Moon orbits Earth, it has consistently orbited slower around Didymos than it did before the DART test.

Slower

To be clear, changing the pathway of dimorphos was the goal of the DART test.

like NASA announced A few weeks after the impact last fall, it succeeded in doing just that, lowering the asteroid’s orbit by a full half-hour, from 11 hours and 55 minutes to 11 hours and 23 minutes. Given that the space agency’s “minimum successful orbit period change” was 73 seconds, this means that the DART test, which showed whether or not Earth is capable of smashing into near-Earth asteroids, was a resounding success.

But as Swift charged in Thacher Observatory It was found that when looking at Dimorphos’ orbit more than a month after the initial impact, the asteroid’s orbit appears to have been… I continued to slow down – an inexplicable turn of events, considering that most astronomers expected it to return to its original orbital speed very quickly.

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“The number we got was a little bit higher, by 34 minutes,” Swift said. new world. “That was inconsistent on an uncomfortable level.”

Speaking theoretically

Although NASA said in its report Original results after DART That the orbit deceleration had a margin of error of plus or minus two minutes, yet the orbit change is a startling result – although some theories suggest that the collision may have “dropped” Demorphos’ orbit, or opened it up from the tidal forces of Didymos.

“We tried our best to find the crack in what we did, but we couldn’t find anything,” Swift explained.

NASA will also release a report soon on the latest update to the DART mission, a NASA spokesperson said new world But the agency will have to compete with Swift and his students, whose findings were shared this summer with the agency American Astronomical Societywhich will publish its paper soon.

More about asteroids: Artificial intelligence now identifies killer asteroids before they approach Earth