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DART Probe has Changed Dimorphos’ Orbit

The NASA DART probe that hit the asteroid Dimorphos on September 27 has shortened Dimorphos’ orbit around its larger parent asteroid Didymos by 32 minutes. Its 11 hour and 55-minute orbit has been reduced to 11 hours and 23 minutes. That’s a reduction of about 3%, three times more than NASA predicted.

My guess was that NASA would find it harder to change the orbit than they predicted, but that didn’t happen.

I’ve also made a more speculative suggestion, that the orbit may partially or fully restore to its original due to the dual workings of gravitational attraction and electric repulsion, which should work as a shock absorber. However, it’s too early to say if this will happen. It’s also something that no-one else is expecting, and therefore something that may not be widely reported on.

Electric repulsion and gravitational attraction
Electric repulsion and gravitational attraction

Telescope images taken in the hours immediately after the impact showed a relatively stable, star-like pattern of ejected dust and debris, not the nebulous cloud we might have expected. This pattern has since become more pronounced.

The image shown in NASA’s latest article is of an elongated jet extending from the asteroid. NASA’s article gives no explanation for the shape of the jet but gives it credit for having made the impact more effective than expected. My thinking is that the jet is shaped by the solar wind, aka plasma current emanating from the sun.

Dimorphos composite.jpg
Dimorphos 285 hours after impact


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Trying to wrap my head around this: I like your theory on why asteroids explode before impact, almost always causing circular craters. Why did this not happen here, why did the machine not explode.
    First guess is the potential grades on distance from sun, and that asteroid came in close enough to equalise charge enough with Earth.
    This contradicts the Grand Canyon spark theory?
    Or does it? The photo sequence of the DART crash does seem a bit accelerated in the last few frames. Seems, I promised myself I’ll go back for some measurements… things get bigger awfully fast at the end?

    1. The machine might have exploded immediately before impact, so close to the target that it still managed to push it as much as it did.

      Another thing I’m interested in knowing is the direction of the ejected jet. Is it away from the sun, or away from the impact? Or is it aligned towards or away from the parent asteroid Didymos? Answers to this will reveal the electrical nature of the asteroid system.

      As for the new orbit, it’s more oblong than the old orbit. If my “shock absorber” thesis is right, this should become a more circular orbit a lot faster than expected.

      If there’s more electrical activity in the system than we’ve so far believed, there’s increased chances that the orbit may restore itself: If orbits turn out to have external currents driving them, the orbit will be pushed back to its original by this external input.

      There’s no lack of things to look for and think about.

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