Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (65803) Didymos waits for the NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impact: a image – 5 Sept. 2022

In just three weeks, we will see the NASA’s DART mission at work to test asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor. We imaged the target, the binary asteroid (65803) Didymos.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (65803) Didymos. 5 Sept. 2022.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (65803) Didymos. 5 Sept. 2022.

The image above comes from the average of two, 180-second exposures, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″ + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars look like short trails, while the asteroid is a sharp dot of light. At the imaging time, the potentially hazardous asteroid (65803) Didymos was at 19.5 millions of km from us, very low (less than 15 degrees) above the SW horizon.

Nasa launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) space mission last Nov. We imaged the spacecraft (and its booster) on its way to the target asteroid soon after launch. Together with DART, there is the satellite LICIACube, developed by Argotec, in cooperation with Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI, the Italian Space Agency).

The Nasa’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and its booster: animation.

The Nasa’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and its booster: animation.

This mission will test asteroid deflection techniques on Dimorphos, the little satellite of asteroid (65803) Didymos. DART will crash on that little satellite on Sept. 2022, to change its orbit, while LICIAcube will help understanding the outcome of that collision. ESA’s Hera mission will join in 2024 to understand the results of such a pioneering attempt. All this will be very precious for future mitigation of an asteroid impact hazard.

We wanted to have a look of the asteroid before of the test, to share it with our community.

We will show online this asteroid around the time of the impact, to possibly see it effects live!

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