LPL Colloquium: Dr. Cristina Thomas
Telescope Observations in Support of NASA's DART Mission: Determining the Orbital Period Change
Dr. Cristina Thomas
Northern Arizona University
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) successfully impacted Dimorphos, the secondary of the near-Earth binary asteroid (65803) Didymos, on 26 September 2022 at 23:14 UTC. The primary objective of DART was to change the orbital period of Dimorphos around Didymos to demonstrate that a kinetic impactor is a viable method of asteroid deflection. The mission targeted the secondary asteroid in an eclipsing binary system since we could use a single impacting spacecraft and measure the change in the secondary’s orbit through ground-based lightcurve observations. The DART Observations Working Group spent years studying the pre-impact orbit and is now carrying out an extensive observing campaign to study the new orbit. I will discuss the design of our observational efforts and our work to determine the orbital period change.
Host: Dr. Tyler Robinson