Archive for the ‘Planetary Protection’ Category

11/23/2021 – Ephemeris – NASA to launch a mission to crash into an asteroid overnight tonight

November 23, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, half-way from full to last quarter, will rise at 8:17 this evening.

As of last Sunday night, it was GO for launch of NASA’s DART Mission at 1:21 am Eastern Standard Time tomorrow morning on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base. DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The DART spacecraft is to smash into a small asteroid named Dimorphos, that slowly orbits another somewhat larger asteroid, Didymos. Dimorphos orbits at only 7 inches per second, so even the smallest impact should alter the orbit noticeably. About a week before the planned collision, DART will release a small CubeSat to arrive 3 minutes after the collision to survey the crash site. In 2024 the European Space Agency will launch a satellite to survey the asteroid pair and note any long-term effects, to see if this technique for diverting asteroids is feasible.


DART at Didymos and Dimorphos to scale

DART spacecraft with Dimorphos and Didymos. The DART spacecraft is not to scale with the asteroids. See below. CREDIT: NASA/JHUAPL

Dart and asteroids to scale

Dart and asteroids to scale with terrestrial landmarks. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

10/19/2021 – Ephemeris – Introducing the DART mission

October 19, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 6:50, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:05. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:54 tomorrow morning.

Last Saturday morning, the Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids was launched. These asteroids are forever locked in Jupiter’s orbit and will never be a hazard to the Earth. Next month, NASA will hopefully launch a mission to a much closer asteroid Didymos, which is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid. The asteroid has a diameter of a bit less than a half mile (780 meters). It also has a satellite named Dimorphos, which has acquired the nickname Didymoon, 520 feet (160 meters) in diameter. The mission called DART for Double Asteroid Redirection Test will see how the impact of a spacecraft hitting the small Didymoon will affect its orbit around the larger asteroid.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.


The DART Mission

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is NASA’s contribution to the international Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) program to determine the effectiveness of a spacecraft kinetic impact of an asteroid in altering its orbit. Credit: NASA.