NASA has everything ready for its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, with which it intends to collide with an asteroid to modify its trajectory and protect Earth.
The collision will occur on September 26 and will be recorded in images through a photographic mission conducted by the Italian Space Agency, in coordination with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, for its acronym in English).
The mission achieved the first sighting of its target, a two-asteroid system identified as Didymos and which includes its target, Dimorphos. Sputnik.
The collision against Dimorphos does not seek to avoid a real collision threat between the asteroid and the Earth, but rather to preventively rehearse human abilities to deflect these astronomical bodies, in the event of a real risk situation.
"This is the world's first test of a kinetic impact technique, which uses a spacecraft to deflect an asteroid in defense of the planet," NASA explained in a statement. The target, Dimorphos, functions as a minor moon orbiting the body of the asteroid Didymos.
On July 27, the DRACO system (acronym for Didymos Asteroid Reconnaissance Camera and Optical Navigation) managed to capture the objective of the NASA mission, through 243 photographs taken at that time.
“The image quality is similar to what we could get from ground-based telescopes, but it is important to show that DRACO is working properly and can visualize its target to make any necessary adjustments before we start using the images. to guide the spacecraft autonomously towards the asteroid”, explained the engineer in charge of the mission, Elena Adams.
The mission requires faithful images, especially in its last navigation phase, in its last four hours before impact, when it will automatically drive towards the asteroid, without human intervention, NASA explained.
These days before the impact, the astronomical team in charge of the mission has the opportunity to introduce three manual corrections to the trajectory, based on the observation of the camera set up for that purpose.
A day before the impact, the team will be able to know the location of the asteroid with a distance of two kilometers.