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UH Astronomers Capture Historic NASA Spacecraft and Asteroid Collision

Images taken as NasaThe spacecraft crashes into the asteroid Dimorphos at around 14,000 miles per hour. Credit: Nasa

Astronomers from the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy (If a) captured a moment of historic impact on Monday, September 27 as Nasa sent a 1,260-pound box-shaped spacecraft head-on into a non-threatening asteroid during a planetary defense exercise. NasaAsteroid double redirect test (DART) has confirmed that the space agency can successfully direct a spacecraft to intentionally collide with an asteroid and deflect it from its current path.

Related: uh astronomers to track spacecraft impact, asteroid collision, September 26, 2022

If a exploit the Nasa-funded by the Asteroid Earth Impact Last Warning System or ATLASwhich captured images taken every 40 seconds from the moment of impact and shows the dust plume blown off the asteroid by the impact DART spatialship. The state-of-the-art asteroid warning system is a four-telescope system located in the Northern Hemisphere at the summit of Haleakalā and Maunaloa and in the Southern Hemisphere in South Africa and Chile. ATLAS‘ in South Africa has compiled footage from Monday’s planetary defense technology demonstration.

“The ATLAS telescope system was well placed to observe the impact of the Earth, and we were lucky to have excellent weather at the ATLAS telescope in Sutherland, South Africa,” said If a Astronomer Larry Denneau, a ATLAS co-principal investigator. “Our robotic operation and automatic data processing were able to produce measurements within minutes of each observation, giving scientists immediate feedback on the observable effects of the impact.”

Related: Just Look Up: Developed uh Asteroid tracking system can monitor the whole sky, January 27, 2022

Asteroid Impact Early Warning System

The ATLAS system can provide a one-day warning for an asteroid 20 meters in diameter, capable of city-level destruction. As large asteroids can be detected farther away, ATLAS can provide up to three weeks’ warning for a 100-meter asteroid, capable of widespread regional devastation.

“The DART The mission hit Didymos’ small moon named Dimorphos hard enough to reduce its 12-hour orbital period by about 5 minutes. Therefore, the eclipses that we can observe from Earth will happen earlier and earlier, and after a week or two we will have a very good measure of Dimorphos’ recoil after being hit by DART“said John Tony, If a teacher and ATLAS principal researcher. “Thanks to this new information, it will be possible to plan a mission to hijack a dangerous asteroid: at what time should it be hit, what should be the mass of the spacecraft, how fast should it move.”

Maunakea Observations

Other images of the headline-grabbing impact were captured atop Maunakea on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. If a Astronomer Richard sheath and astronomer from the University of Western Ontario Robert Weryk obtained images of the dust plume using the world-class optical telescope approximately 13 hours after the DART spacecraft hit Dimorphos.

“The extent and structure of the dust plume surprised me,” Weryk said. “I expected it to be on a much smaller scale.”

Over the next two months, If a astronomers will work with students to study the orbit of Dimorphos using the uh88 on Maunakea and the Faulkes North Telescope on Haleakalā, which is one of several observatories that are part of the Las Cumbres Telescope Network.

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