Astronomers from Ondřej take part in NASA's mission against an asteroid.  The strike will take place next week

Astronomers from Ondřej take part in NASA’s mission against an asteroid. The strike will take place next week

Experts Petr Pravec and Petr Scheirich from the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Ondřejov are also taking part in the space mission in a significant way. They led an international team that obtained the data needed to determine the orbit of a moon named Dimorphos around the primary body Didymos.

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According to the press secretary of the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Pavel Suchan, who informed about it, these are key results necessary for planning the given mission.

Astronomer Pravec’s team discovered the moon

American astronomers from the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona discovered the near-Earth asteroid, catalog number 65803 and the name Didymos, on 11 April 1996.

A Czech-American team led by Petr Pravec revealed its binary character (i.e. of a NASA mission called the Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART).

The goal of this mission is to test the technology to deflect a potentially dangerous asteroid using the “kinetic impactor” method.

The DART probe was successfully launched from the US Space Force’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last November and will hit the moon Dimorphos at high speed (6 km/s) on Monday, September 26 at 11:14 PM ET, that is Tuesday, September 27 at 1: 14 our time.

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Science and schools

This impact will result in a change in the path of the Dimorphos around the main body (the so-called primary school) of Didymos. From the extent and nature of this change will be determined the actual effect that will be the result of the explorer’s influence on Dimorphos.

Help with a future threat to Earth?

The data obtained will lead to the calibration and refinement of theoretical models that will allow the application of the “kinetic impactor” method to deflect a potentially dangerous asteroid in the future – that is, one that would be on course so called collision. with our planet.

Astronomers Ondřej Pravec and Scheirich are members of the international research team of the DART mission. They led an observing team that obtained, between 2015 and 2021, precise photometric measurements of the Didymos-Dimorphos system using 11 large ground-based telescopes – with primary mirror diameters of three to 10 meters. From the data obtained, they made an orbital model of this system and predicted the relative position of Dimorphos to Didymos at the time of impact.

According to Suchan, accurate knowledge of the joint position of these bodies allowed the explorer to be guided to an optimal path leading to the maximum measurable effect of his influence.

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Science and schools

Theoretical models predict that the boost given by the DART probe to Dimorphos on impact, enhanced by the ejection of Dimorphos material back from the impact flank, will reduce the orbital period of Dimorphos around Didymos by an estimated range of minutes to tens of minutes. This change in Dimmorphos’ orbit will be easily measured by a network of ground-based telescopes.

Astronomers from Ondřej will analyze the photometric data obtained and determine the extent of the change in the path of Dimorphos due to the influence of the probe. The final results will then be published after all ground measurements are completed in March next year.

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