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A spaceship colliding with an asteroid is observed by scientists

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A spaceship colliding with an asteroid is observed by scientists-GadgetAny
Spaceship collision

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

It wasn’t only an exciting test of planetary defense when NASA purposefully smashed a spacecraft into an asteroid last year. Seeing an asteroid system and the results of the collision provided scientists with a rare opportunity to learn more about the makeup of asteroids. We previously saw images of the impact taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, but now we can see it from a different perspective thanks to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’S VLT).

The DART spacecraft’s contact with the asteroid Dimorphos was visible after it occurred thanks to the Very Large Telescope, a group of four telescopes with a ground-based installation in Chile. The photographs span the period from immediately before the collision on September 26, 2022, up to one month later on October 25, when the ejecta—a cloud of debris thrown up by the impact—began to form. The cloud began to form clusters and spirals during this time and eventually settled into a protracted tail created by solar radiation.

NASA spacecraft
AP News

The researchers used spectroscopy to analyze this ejecta and were able to determine that the cloud was devoid of oxygen and water. According to one of the researchers, Cyrielle Opitom, “Asteroids are not supposed to contain considerable amounts of ice, so seeing any evidence of water would have been a great surprise.” The scientists also looked for propellant from the spaceship, however they were unsuccessful in their quest. We were aware that it was unlikely because there wouldn’t be much gas left over from the propulsion system in the tanks, according to Opitom.

Another study examined the way light reflected off an asteroid to determine how the asteroid altered after the spacecraft collided with it.

“When we see the objects in our Solar System, we are looking at the sunlight that is scattered by their surface or by their atmosphere, which gets partially polarized,” said researcher Stefano Bagnulo. The structure and makeup of an asteroid’s surface are revealed by observing how its polarization varies as it moves in relation to the Sun and our planet.

The study discovered enhanced brightness and polarization shifts, which point to the possibility that the impact may have scraped away the asteroid’s dull upper layers to reveal brighter, unaltered material beneath. It’s also possible that the hit produced smaller debris fragments than bigger ones, which would account for why they reflected more light.

In order to generate this magnificent artist’s conception of the moment the spacecraft collided with the asteroid, the European Southern Observatory finally combined data from the numerous studies with photographs captured by the spacecraft’s camera prior to its demise.

Two papers based on the findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Prelo Con

By Prelo Con

Following my passion by reviewing latest tech. Just love it.

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