NASA’s DART fallout! Asteroid Dimorphos debris may rain on Mars, reveals ESA researcher - Hindustan Times
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NASA’s DART fallout! Asteroid Dimorphos debris may rain on Mars, reveals ESA researcher

Apr 02, 2024 08:36 PM IST

The consequences of NASA crashing a spacecraft against Asteroid Dimorphos may well lead to changes on the surface of Mars, ESA researcher says.

US space agency had tested its planet defense system in the form of DART that entailed the crashing of a spacecraft at high speed against an asteroid in an attempt to change its course. That was in September 2022. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was to see whether the agency was capable of actually turning away a rogue asteroid that some day in the future may threaten Earth. As a strategy it was faultless and the exercise went off better than the wildest dreams’ of NASA’s scientists. The asteroid in question, called Asteroid Dimorphos, which was some 530 feet in diameter, actually moved away from its orbit after the crash. According to NASA, DART mission was “… one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.”

NASA's DART mission changed Asteroid Dimorphos forever and its debris may well rain down on Mars.(NASA)
NASA's DART mission changed Asteroid Dimorphos forever and its debris may well rain down on Mars.(NASA)

Read More: Two 100-foot asteroids set to pass Earth today; NASA reveals details

The consequences of success

While that was a resounding success, there are some consequences that NASA is having to think about now. It transpires that the crash was so strong that the asteroid shed huge amounts of its material that has now spread away from the space rock itself. In what has now come as a shock, it is being surmised that this material is likely to cross the orbit of Mars and some of these space rocks may even crash on the Red Planet, leaving big impact craters and thereby disturbing the pristine nature of the soil there! This was indicated by researcher Marco Fenucci at the European Space Agency, the National Geographic reported.

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Notably, Dimorphos is a pale shadow of its former self as it has lost huge quantities of its soil. The impact was so severe that it altered, not only its orbit, but even its shape. The massive impact was snapped even by the Hubble Space Telescope and the newer James Webb Space Telescope.

When is this likely to happen

However, before you rush to buy a new telescope to check out this massive space phenomenon play out, know that it is not likely to happen for at least 6000 years.

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Add to that the fact that the probability of the event actually happening are quite low.

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