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Launched Dart, the first task of orbiting an asteroid - space and astronomy

Launched Dart, the first task of orbiting an asteroid – space and astronomy

Match dart, the first task of trying to divert an asteroid. It was launched on the Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg base in California at 7:20 a.m., and will now begin its long journey of more than 10 million kilometers in 11 months to strike and divert the 170-meter-diameter asteroid. The DART (dual asteroid redirection test) will be a test bed to assess our ability to orbit a dangerous asteroid. Italy has teamed up with LiciaCube, a ‘photojournalist’ microsatellite to capture the impact in order to assess its success.

In 11 months, Dart will attempt to change its orbit by hitting an asteroid with a diameter of 170 meters at a speed of 21,000 kilometers per hour. “For the first time, Dart can assess our ability to change the orbit of a dangerous asteroid,” said Giorgio Sacosia, head of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

There have been countless times when cinema and literature have entered the story of comets or asteroids on the path to colliding with Earth, proposing more or less realistic solutions to save the planet, and now, for the first time, those ideas can be translated. True ‘. Despite the distance, the danger of the impact of large celestial bodies actually exists, for this reason various space agencies are developing the first planetary defense programs with only one goal: to prevent us from finishing like dinosaurs.

NASA’s DART is the first of two missions of the Ida program (meteor impact and deflection assessment), with the European Space Agency (ESA) Hera testing NASA’s feasibility of orbiting a celestial body on its way to Earth. By violent impact with a small object.

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Dart’s goal is to violently attack another large asteroid, the 170-meter-diameter asteroid DiMarpos, which orbits Didymus. Dart’s impact, at 6 thousand kilograms at a speed of 21 thousand kilometers per hour, should only cause an invisible displacement of Dimarpos. A small variation of the orbit, however, should develop an increasingly large deviation from the initial orbit over time.

LiciaCube, a purely Italian microsatellite, was built by Argotec in Turin, which, in collaboration with ASI, will tell Dart’s last moments in real time and then measure its effects on the asteroid. “His role will be crucial to the success of the entire mission – including Sacosia – and will face a number of technical challenges because the microsatellite will have to manage the operating stages and various possible scenarios independently. Ahead”.

10 days after the impact, the LiciaCube splits out of the dart and spontaneously travels about 50 km, capturing the impact with its 2 cameras Leia (Liciacube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid) and Luke (Liciacube Unit Key Explorer). LiciaCube will be the most active Italian satellite from Earth and will be managed by an all-Italian team, including the National Institute of Astronomy (Inaf), the Polytechnic University of Milan, the University of Bologna and the Parthenope of Naples, the Applied Institute of Florence National Research Council (Ifac-Cn). Integrated by Toto.