Analysis of data obtained over the past two weeks by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) investigation team shows the spacecraft’s kinetic impact with its target asteroid, Dimorphos, successfully altered the asteroid’s orbit. This marks humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology. Images such as the below helped scientists understand the orbit change resulting from DART’s impact.
“We’re using the Green Bank Telescope, working with JPL’s Goldstone telescope, to provide radar observations to determine the new orbit of Dimorphos around Didymos. From optical observations we know the impact of the DART spacecraft ejected dust from Dimorphos, so we expect the orbit to have changed measurably. The two week radar campaign with the GBT and JPL’s Goldstone telescope will determine the new orbit of Dimorphos,” shares Green Bank Observatory scientist Toney Minter.
Hear Toney talk to BBC Sounds: Science In Action about the GBT and DART (jump to 10 minutes in.)
“The Green Bank Observatory is very excited to contribute to this radar measurement in support of NASA’s DART mission. The Green Bank Telescope’s large collecting area makes it extremely sensitive and a prime receiving station to detect these faint radar echoes. Given the huge dust cloud and trail kicked up by the impact, DART clearly had a dramatic effect on poor little Dimorphos. These radar measurements will be key to determine just how dramatic the event really was by sensing changes in its orbit around Didymos and definitively establishing its deflection,” adds Jim Jackson, Green Bank Observatory director.
Find many more images shared here, in NASA’s original press release.