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 Why in news 

  • When NASA sent its DART spacecraft to slam into the asteroid Dimorphos in 2022.

  • The U.S. space agency demonstrated it was possible to change a celestial object’s trajectory, if needed, to protect the earth. 

  • It turns out this collision changed not only the asteroid’s path but its shape as well.

  • The asteroid, which before the DART encounter looked like a ball that was a bit plump in the waist.

  • Now appears to be shaped more like a watermelon — or, technically, a triaxial ellipsoid, scientists have said.

What is Dimorphos

  • Dimorphos is a natural satellite.

  • It’s the  moon of a near-Earth asteroid called Didymos.

  • Size and Shape: Dimorphos is a relatively small celestial body.

  •  A diameter of approximately 170 meters (560 ft).

  • Its a bit bigger than a football field

  • Its shape is believed to be egg-shaped and covered in boulders, suggesting a rubble pile structure.

  • Orbit: Dimorphos orbits its larger companion, Didymos, which is about 780 meters (2,560 ft) in diameter. 

  • It completes one full orbit around Didymos in roughly 11 hours and 23 minutes.

  • Claim to Fame: Dimorphos became famous in September 2022 when it was deliberately hit by a NASA spacecraft called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test). 

  • This mission aimed to test planetary defense strategies by altering the orbit of an asteroid through a kinetic impact. 

  • The mission was successful, shortening Dimorphos's orbital period.

DART spacecraft

  • The DART spacecraft was a refrigerator-sized probe launched by NASA in November 2021. 

  • Its mission was to test planetary defense by deliberately crashing itself into the asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, 2022. 

  • Dimorphos is a moonlet of the near-Earth asteroid Didymos. 

  • Neither posed a threat to Earth, but the impact allowed scientists to measure the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor in changing an asteroid's trajectory. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: DART Spacecraft UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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