Can Humans Go A Different Way From The Dinosaurs?[코스모스토리]

Editor’s note

Let’s look at the ‘wide world’. We look forward to ‘humanity’s efforts’ to expand awareness and base through technological advances. ‘Cosmo Story’ begins, a story about the vast universe beyond the earth.

Courtesy of Pixar Bay

In our hectic daily life, we sometimes hear news about asteroids or comets flying close to the Earth through the news. Space celestial bodies that are said to have flown close to hundreds of thousands of kilometers from Earth look like small, fast-moving stars when seen from the night sky, so ordinary people who are not interested in the space often passes without even being aware of their existence. .

However, Earth is surrounded by countless large and small cosmic objects that exist both inside and outside the solar system. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) tracks and observes these celestial bodies.

However, this does not necessarily mean that ‘we are safe’ can be reassured. It’s just that it hasn’t been discovered yet, because even at this time, it might be flying towards Earth from a location we didn’t know.

Just as the dinosaurs that ruled the earth in the past disappeared due to a single asteroid impact, we also need to prepare for an asteroid that may come from somewhere far away in space.

In 1998, the US Congress asked NASA to detect and categorize at least 90% of all celestial bodies over 1 km from the solar system that approach Earth. , CNEOS).

Distribution of asteroids found in the solar system.  The white circle is the Earth's orbit.  NASA/JPL-CaltechDistribution of asteroids found in the solar system. The white circle is the Earth’s orbit. NASA/JPL-Caltech

It may have been motivating because it was directly related to the survival of mankind. Whenever the team discovered a new near-Earth object, they reported it to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) operated by the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The data was collected by identifying celestial objects near the Earth using astronomical observation data from all over the world.

What was the result of the observation? About 18,000 celestial bodies have been discovered by 2018, about 20 years from the beginning. Even with simple calculations, it equates to discovering 5 or more celestial bodies every day.

Humanity’s first successful asteroid defense test

Asteroid Didymos seen in the night sky.  NASA's JPL DART Navigation TeamAsteroid Didymos seen in the night sky. NASA’s JPL DART Navigation Team

After discovering and observing asteroids, the next step is to protect against celestial bodies flying towards Earth. You can watch a celestial body approach Earth from space, but if you have no way to control it, there’s nothing worse than that.

On the 27th, mankind carried out a successful experiment to modify the orbit of a celestial body of space, which was only encountered in science fiction films. This experiment, known as the Double Asteroid Reorientation Test (DART) mission, deliberately collides a small cube spacecraft with the asteroid ‘Dimorphos’ about 11 million km away to change its Experiment orbit.

DART mission concept diagram.  provided with screwsDART mission concept diagram. provided with screws

The surest way to change the orbit of an asteroid moving at constant speed is to ‘correct the collision’. Just as a moving ball in a pool table collides with another ball and changes its direction of motion, the direction of motion of an asteroid will change when it collides with a satellite during a space flight. This experiment was designed in the sense that the greater the impact energy, the greater the change value.

However, this asteroid is not a single object, but an asteroid ‘Didymos’ with a diameter of around 780 meters and an asteroid ‘Dimorphos’ with a diameter of around 160 meters orbiting it. The Dart Mission experimented here to change its orbit by colliding with the asteroid ‘Dimorphos’.

Asteroids Didymo (left) and Dimorphos taken by the DRACO Imager 2.5 minutes before the impact of the DART spacecraft.  NASA/Johns Hopkins APLAsteroids Didymo (left) and Dimorphos taken by the DRACO Imager 2.5 minutes before the impact of the DART spacecraft. NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

So, why did NASA use asteroids in the binary star system as a test subject? A close-up of an asteroid is hidden behind the experimental background of Darts Mission.

There are two types of asteroids that pass through the Earth: those that go through a certain period and those that pass through the Earth once. In the first case, it has a path that rotates under the influence of gravity of one or multiple celestial bodies, including the Earth, within the solar system.

In the latter case, it is a case of passing around the Earth by accidentally entering the solar system while sailing in interstellar space. Both cases are similar in that they are affected by near-Earth gravity. Just like the relationship between ‘Dimorphos’ revolving around ‘Didymos’.

In addition, it is easy to obtain related data because it can accurately measure the amount of impact after the collision test by changing the orbit.

Schematic diagram of the Double Asteroid Orientation Correction Experiment (DART) mission.  provided with screwsSchematic diagram of the Double Asteroid Orientation Correction Experiment (DART) mission. provided with screws

In the first case, the orbit of the asteroid gradually changes its course due to the gravitational influence of the nearby celestial bodies during a space journey. If these changes accumulate, one day, the Earth’s gravity may pull it into a collisional orbit on its course passing the Earth.

Also, when an asteroid passing through interstellar space enters the solar system, unfortunately, it can enter an orbit that collides with Earth. Darts Mission is a planetary defense experiment to defend against these situations.

When designing the mission, NASA expects to reduce the orbital period of ‘Dimorphos’ from 11 hours and a half to 10 hours by 90 minutes, taking into account the mass and speed of movement of the Dart satellite. If the orbital correction is successful according to this prediction, humanity will test its ability to defend against a 100-meter class asteroid from deep space to Earth.

Also, the darts mission has a special meaning in the sense that a satellite launched from the earth flew into deep space through a navigation system and collided with a small object with a diameter of 160m.

The Dart satellite had an 8.5-metre solar panel, weighed 610 kg, and had a collision speed of 22,000 km/h (6.1 km/s, about 18 times the speed of sound). The impact occurred at a point approximately 17 meters away from the center of the asteroid. This shows how accurate the navigation system was and how well it worked.

Image transmitted by the DART spacecraft just before impact.  NASA youtube captureImage transmitted by the DART spacecraft just before impact. NASA youtube capture

Changing the orbit of a flying asteroid is very difficult. This is because we have to adjust the course of the asteroid as much as we want to change it by calculating the direction, angle and speed of the asteroid’s flight.

Also, the greater the volume and mass of an object, the more difficult it will be to change. Also, to change course near the Earth, the azimuth you have to move must be large. Of course, the energy required is also high.

However, if you are dealing with a celestial body far from Earth, you may need to change the azimuth angle slightly with such a small force. This is the reason behind the deep space experiment.

Hubble and James Webb observed the crash site

Image from the Hubble Space Telescope observing the DART spacecraft colliding with Dimorphos (left) Image from the James Webb Space Telescope.  NASA, ESA, CSA, Jian-Yang Li (PSI), Cristina Thomas (Northern Arizona University), Ian Wong (NASA-GSFC)Image from the Hubble Space Telescope observing the DART spacecraft colliding with Dimorphos (left) Image from the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA, ESA, CSA, Jian-Yang Li (PSI), Cristina Thomas (Northern Arizona University), Ian Wong (NASA-GSFC)

The Hubble Space Telescope in Earth orbit and the James Webb Space Telescope located at Lagrange 2 also made observations when the first human asteroid defense experiment was conducted. On the 29th (local time), NASA released data images from two space telescopes observing the moment when Dimorphos and Dart collided on their website.

This observation is the first time that Hubble and James Webb observed the same object at the same time. “Webb and the Hubble telescope are showing us what we always knew to be true at NASA,” said Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator. I look forward to finding out after that.”

In fact, James Webb made several observations for about five hours from the moment of impact. Images taken by a near-infrared camera (NIRCam) show rays of light created by the expansion of material ejected from the center of the impact.

Here, James Webb is significant as he observed an asteroid traveling about three times faster than the original specified speed for observing a moving object.

Image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope 22 minutes, 5 hours, and 8.2 hours after the DART spacecraft collided with the asteroid Dimorphos.  NASA, ESA, Jian-Yang Li (PSI);  image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)Image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope 22 minutes, 5 hours, and 8.2 hours after the DART spacecraft collided with the asteroid Dimorphos. NASA, ESA, Jian-Yang Li (PSI); image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Hubble also observed changes in celestial brightness by observing it several times from the point of impact until 8.2 hours later. Scientists estimate that the brightness in the Hubble image increased approximately three times after the impact, and it was confirmed that this brightness remained constant eight hours after the impact.

In the future, Hubble plans to observe Didymos and Dimorphos for three weeks. This will collect data on the expansion of the dust cloud caused by the collision.

NASA will also combine observations from the two space telescopes to gather scientific data on the nature of Dimorphus’ surface, how much material was ejected from the collision, how fast it is ejected, and the particle size distribution of the cloud dust that expands than see .

Will humans walk a different path to dinosaurs?

Courtesy of Pixar BayCourtesy of Pixar Bay

Humans are about to advance into space while continuing to thrive and develop on Earth. However, as a single planetary species, we have yet to find a planet capable of leaving Earth to settle, nor have we had the technology to get there.

However, from the 27th, we have a big difference from the dinosaurs that ruled the earth in the past. Dinosaurs don’t have a planetary defense system, we humans do.

“A new era has begun,” said Laurie Glaze, NASA’s planetary science chief.

Currently, next generation aircraft are being developed to replace space observation instruments, including James Webb. We will learn about the distribution and distribution of celestial bodies on Earth, the solar system, and beyond, as we receive incredible observations of the introduction of these gases in the near future.

There is an asteroid known as a ‘world killer’, the sooner it is discovered, the more likely it is that humanity will save the Earth. Let’s have a pleasant imagination of the bright future ahead.

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