On September 27, 2022, NASA collided its spacecraft with an asteroid to test the theory that the asteroid was likely to be redirected. This mission was necessary to understand whether humanity in the future would be able to change the orbit of an asteroid in this way in the event of a threat to the Earth. It turned out that everything worked exactly as the scientists expected, and even somewhat better, although not according to plan.
A year later, Jonathan Swift, a teacher from California and his students, thanks to the school telescope, discovered that the asteroid Dimophros, into which NASA crashed the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft, is now behaving somewhat chaotically. This is stated in a study published on the preprint portal arXiv. The study still needs to be peer reviewed by the scientific community.
The collision shortened the orbit of Dimorphos, which was circling another asteroid, Didymos, by 33 minutes over several weeks.
However, now Jonathan Swift of the Thacher School in California, while observing with his students, noticed that Dimorphos’ orbit continued to shrink by another minute more than a month after the collision.
Previously, it revolved around Didymos in 11 hours 55 minutes, now in 11 hours 23 minutes. Dimorphos also grew a tail, like a comet, 10 thousand kilometers long. These are, in fact, the remains of an asteroid, knocked out from its surface and stretched along its orbit.
“The number we got was a little higher – a 34-minute shift. It was controversial on an uncomfortable level,” Swift said.
He shared his observations with the American Astronomical Society in New Mexico, and they confirmed his data.
“We tried our best to find the mistake in what we did, but we couldn’t find anything,” Swift explained.
The observations suggest that something caused Dimorphos’ orbit to permanently slow down after the collision. One version is that the asteroid is now falling, and previously its orbit was under the tidal influence of Didymos.
According to New Scientist, in turn, Garrison Agrusa, a member of the DART team at the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France, also noted that there is some evidence of an asteroid fall.
He said that after the collision there was a “significant libration”, implying that Dimorphos began to fluctuate in its position in relation to Didymos, as the Moon does in relation to the Earth.
“Now there is a possibility that, depending on the inertia, this will develop into a more chaotic fall, where Dimorphos could turn over,” the scientist said.
However, Agrusa believes that such a situation would hardly lead to a reduction in the orbit of Dimorphos, since it would change randomly.
He said it was more likely that material kicked up by the collision, including boulders up to several meters across, remained in orbit around Dimorphos and subsequently fell back to the surface, causing its orbit to slow down.
“I think that’s the most likely explanation,” he said.
Nancy Chabot, coordinator of the DART project at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland (USA), said the team is continuing to monitor Dimorphos and will publish its results in the coming weeks.
According to her data, the asteroid indeed continued to slow down for some time, but for about 15 seconds.
“We don’t see any change after about the first month,” she said, referring to observations until late February, when the asteroid was no longer visible from Earth.
A future European Space Agency mission called Hera, which is due to arrive at the asteroid in 2026, will be able to say exactly what happened on Dimorphos.
What exactly happened to Dimorphos could have implications for future attempts to redirect asteroids, since it is important to know exactly how the space rock will behave after a collision.
“It’s very good to know what we did with Dimorphos. These specific details are really key to using this technique in the future if it comes in handy,” Chabot said.
NASA decided to play with toys, and chose a double asteroid for this: its “moon,” the asteroid Dimorphos, revolves around a body named Didymos. These are small objects: Didymos is about 800 meters in diameter, its satellite is about 160 meters. Just enough to destroy all of humanity about twenty times.
The truth is that If Dimorphos falls on its “master”, Didymos, it will cause an explosion that cannot be compared with anything known so far. Our poor planet simply does not have such a number of nuclear warheads to weigh up.
If this happens suddenly near the Earth, Didymos’ orbit could change in unpredictable ways. We already understand that NASA can’t explain the consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is completely unclear whether this entire economy will fall to Earth, or whether it will – and the calculations cannot be trusted.
Dimorphos grew a tail after being hit. That is, the asteroid turned into a comet. This happens even without human intervention; the boundary between an asteroid and a comet is blurred. Most likely, the reactive forces that erupt this tail continue to change the orbit of Dimorphos. That is, man, through his own stupidity, launched a mechanism that science does not really understand. After all, comets are rather poorly studied.
Conspiracy theorists draw attention to the strange coincidence. The teacher is the full namesake of the great writer of the 18th century, the author of Gulliver’s Travels. In his essay, Swift predicted the existence of two satellites of Mars, and even gave their exact orbits. There are other predictions there as well. Therefore, many think that Swift was in fact an alien, which is allegedly indicated by inconsistencies in his biography, one of those whom higher intelligence sends to our planet to warn and admonish.
And now the universe makes it clear that people have crossed boundaries, behaved aggressively, violated unwritten rules and will suffer for it. Could this hypothesis become reality? Perhaps, yes.
We learned that Swift is supposedly an alien as a child, from a book, and everything is very serious there, because at the time of the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satellites of Mars could not be observed in any way. When we read the teacher’s name, we slightly couldn’t believe our eyes. There are coincidences and let’s assume that there are.
However, the idea of shooting at asteroids is truly destructive. We understand that, in essence, this is a test of space weapons, hastily covered up by “concern for humanity.” So we received an answer – from the noosphere. And if there is absolutely no mysticism and conspiracy theories, there is no point in taking a sledgehammer to where you understand nothing.