Back in 2022, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) planetary protection system successfully and for the first time in history changed the orbit of a celestial body – Dimorphos, a satellite of the larger asteroid Didymos, proving that it is quite possible to prevent a possible collision of an asteroid with Earth in this way. The tests went so well that they probably changed Dimorphos’ appearance. DART was expected to shorten the asteroid’s orbital period around Didymos by 7 minutes – instead, this time was shortened by more than 33 minutes. During the collision, boulders flew away from Dimorphos, and they were filmed by ground-based telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the LICIACube probe, which separated from DART shortly before the collision.

After conducting a series of simulations based on the images obtained, astronomers came to the conclusion that Dimorphos, with a diameter of 160 m (the diameter of its “mother” celestial body is 780 m) is a cluster of material that Didymos sheds during rotation, and that is why it “behaved” very strangely during a collision with the DART device. Essentially, the impact altered the structure of Dimorphos, but did not leave an impact crater due to the loose material that makes up the asteroid. The European Space Agency is already planning the Hera mission, which should go to study the new structure of Dimorphos – and scientists are sure that Nega will not find a crater on it. The study of the debris and the modified structure of the asteroid is very important for assessing the effectiveness of DART and for its further use, taking into account the rocks that make up the celestial bodies “attacked” by the system.

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