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NASA’s DART spacecraft is about to smash into an asteroid – Freethink

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NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has gotten its first look at the Didymos asteroid system — and in just a few days, it will attempt to smash into one of the space rocks in the hope of helping NASA prevent a future asteroid impact with Earth. 

The challenge: Our solar system contains millions of rocky objects left over after the formation of the planets and moons. The biggest of these are asteroids, and while most never get close to us, if a large one were to hit Earth’s surface, the impact could be devastating.

NASA keeps an eye out for potentially hazardous asteroids, and if it saw one heading our way, we might be able to prevent the collision by slamming something into the threatening space rock to redirect it — but no one has attempted an asteroid-redirection mission before, so we don’t know for sure how or if it would work.

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“This first set of images is being used as a test to prove our imaging techniques.”

Elena Adams

The DART spacecraft: Since we wouldn’t want to wait until our planet is at risk to find out whether it is possible to redirect an asteroid, NASA launched DART, the world’s first planetary defense experiment, in November 2021. 

The DART spacecraft is expected to make impact with Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting the larger Didymos asteroid, on September 26, 2022, when the pair are about 7 million miles from Earth — nowhere near close enough to harm our planet.

NASA will then use data from the collision to inform future asteroid redirection experiments and, if needed, actual planetary defense missions.

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Eyes on the prize: During its 10-month journey to the Didymos asteroid system, the DART spacecraft has used an imager, DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation), to snap thousands of photos.

By combining nearly 250 images captured by DRACO on July 27, 2022, NASA has produced DART’s first image of Didymos and Dimorphos.

This image of Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos is a composite of 243 images taken by DRACO. Credit: NASA JPL DART Navigation Team

Why it matters: DART’s ability to capture and process images of its target using DRACO is essential to the success of the mission — in the final four hours before impact, the DART spacecraft will need to navigate to the asteroids without human intervention, and those images will be vital to ensuring it hits its target.

“This first set of images is being used as a test to prove our imaging techniques,” said Elena Adams, the DART mission systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

“The quality of the image is similar to what we could obtain from ground-based telescopes,” she continued, “but it is important to show that DRACO is working properly and can see its target to make any adjustments needed before we begin using the images to guide the spacecraft into the asteroid autonomously.”

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].

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See the Far Side of the Moon: Incredibly Detailed Pictures From Artemis I Orion Close Lunar Flyby – SciTechDaily

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The Earth is seen setting from the far side of the Moon just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this video taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orion’s solar arrays. The spacecraft was preparing for the Outbound Powered Flyby maneuver which would bring it within 80 miles of the lunar surface, the closest approach of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, before moving into a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft entered the lunar sphere of influence on Sunday, November 20, making the Moon, instead of Earth, the main gravitational force acting on the spacecraft. Credit: <span class="glossaryLink" aria-describedby="tt" data-cmtooltip="

NASA
Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is &quot;To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.&quot; Its core values are &quot;safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion.&quot;

” data-gt-translate-attributes=”["attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"]”>NASA

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On the sixth day of the Artemis I mission, Orion made a close flyby of the Moon, passing about 81 miles (130 km) above the surface. During the close flyby, Orion’s optical navigation camera captured black-and-white images of craters on the Moon below. Orion uses the optical navigation camera to capture imagery of the Earth and the Moon at different phases and distances, providing an enhanced body of data to certify its effectiveness under different lighting conditions as a way to help orient the spacecraft on future missions with crew.

The Earth and Moon are tidally locked, which means that the Moon spins on its axis exactly once each time it orbits our planet. Because of this, people on Earth only ever see one side of the Moon. In fact, humans didn’t see the lunar far side until a Soviet spacecraft flew past in 1959. This side we never see is known as the “far side of the Moon.” Sometimes it is called the “dark side of the Moon,” which some people consider a misnomer because it gets just as much sunlight as the near side of the Moon. However, “dark” in this case is referring to unknown, rather than a lack of light.

Here are the detailed images of the Moon captured by Orion’s optical navigation camera:

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NASA’s live coverage of the Artemis I Close Flyby of the Moon.

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Mission Accomplished: UVic Satellite Reaches International Space Station – Abbotsford News

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While the International Space Station was travelling over the Pacific Ocean early Sunday (Nov. 27) morning, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying a miniature satellite built by University of Victoria students autonomously docked to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

UVic’s optical reference calibration satellite, known as ORCASat, embarked on its journey into space at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Witnessing the launch was a major relief for ORCASat project manager Alex Doknjas, who nervously watched from his family’s living room in Campbell River on Saturday morning.

“It was pretty awesome,” Doknjas, a recent graduate of UVic’s engineering program, told Black Press Media. The initial launch scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22 was scrapped due to poor weather.

UVic’s ORCASat won a national competition funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Canadian CubeSat Project, which saw 15 teams of students from each province and territory design and build their own CubeSat with the guidance of CSA experts and representatives from the Canadian space industry.

As a result, UVic’s satellite was one of two post-secondary projects from Canada chosen to be part of Saturday’s launch, alongside a satellite built by students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

“It’s pretty remarkable, especially because UVic isn’t a huge school,” Doknjas said. “I think that’s pretty impressive.”

More than 100 full-time researchers, co-op and volunteer students from UVic Satellite Design, UBC Orbit and Simon Fraser University Satellite Design have all contributed to the project which began in 2018.

Tristan Tarnowski, ORCASat team member and UVic engineering student, during assembly of the UVic satellite. (Courtesy ORCASat)

ORCASat is comparable to the size of a two litre carton of milk or tissue box, and only weighs about two-and-a-half kilograms. Once sent out into earth’s orbit the satellite will act as an artificial star, serving as a reference light source in orbit that can be viewed by telescopes back down on earth, said Doknjas.

“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate this concept of calibrating telescopes,” he said. “If you’re a telescope on the ground observing a star, you’re observing the light that the star emits and that light travels through earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is constantly changing and as light passes through it, the light gets scattered, and that effect of how light reacts in the atmosphere is not well understood.”

The difference between ORCASat and an actual star, however, is that scientists on earth can communicate with ORCASat, allowing them to know exactly how bright the satellite is, in addition to how bright it appears through a telescope.

“Now you have two separate measurements. You know exactly how bright it actually is, and you know bright it appeared to you. From those two measurements you can calculate the difference, which is how much of that light is lost in the atmosphere,” explained Doknjas.

Doknjas said that although the concept isn’t new, it’s the first time that a light source capable of performing an experiment like this has been carried on a satellite into space. He added that the technology could be used in the future for earth observation, or even methane detection for climate change.

ORCASat will remain at the International Space Station before being released into earth’s orbit to collect data for approximately one year, but that depends on factors like sun flares and solar radiation that impact the life of the satellite.

ALSO READ: BC Aviation Museum seeking donations for a new exhibit


Do you have a story tip? Email: austin.westphal@saanichnews.com.

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Crack or Survive? YouTuber Mark Rober Just Dropped an Egg from Space for Humanity – News18

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YouTuber Mark Rober Dropped Egg from Space. (Image: Youtube/@MarkRober)

YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has now dropped a couple of eggs from space.

Popular YouTuber Mark Rober, best known for his gadgets and fun science videos has done another experiment. In his recent YouTube video, he dropped a couple of eggs from space that fell in the Victor Valley. This was done earlier this year, however, the “Egg Drop From Space” video was uploaded to YouTube on Black Friday. In the video, the team could be seen driving on Bear Valley Road toward Deadman’s Point in Apple Valley. A shot from the weather balloon in space showed the Victor Valley, including landmarks such as Spring Valley Lake and the Mojave River.

The video, since uploaded, has garnered 9.9 million views. The team included rocket and propulsion specialist Joe Barnard, of BPS Systems. He majorly helped with the rocket’s guidance system and design. Have a look:

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His original plan was to fix an egg on a rocket that would be lifted by a giant weather balloon.

Meanwhile, earlier, the YouTuber talked about his son. He revealed that his son has special needs. This was the first time Mark talked about his son’s condition and explained how children with autism view the world differently. In the video, which is around 10 minutes, Mark shared some intimate moments that showed him and his son engaged in heartwarming conversations. Mark explained that he felt protective about his son, which is why he never shared anything about him.

He had launched a fundraiser in collaboration with Next for Autism organisation where several celebrities will join him to raise funds for autistic adults. Mark explained that there are several organisations that help kids with autism but as they grow up and step into the real world not much support is extended to them. Autistic adults also need special support to get them through education and jobs, and hence with this upcoming fundraiser Mark and several celebrities hope to generate that awareness and money.

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