An illustration of the DART spacecraft approaching the asteroid.

Preserving the Earth requires some sacrifice. DART is currently on its way to an asteroid system called Didymos and will crash into one tiny asteroid to test out a method for deflating asteroids. Rather than leaving behind an impact crater, DART may actually change the shape of the mini- moon.

A group of researchers used a new model to model the entire cratering process and discovered that the asteroid deflection mission might completely alter its target.

According to Martin Jutzi, co-author of the study, the DART impact could change Dimorphos' shape significantly, instead of just a small crater.

This illustration shows the possible shapes that the asteroid might take following impact.

The mini-moon, dubbed Dimorphos, could take on one of the six possible shapes following the impact of the spaceship. The impact could take a few hours, which is why previous models of the impact did not predict the asteroids subsequent changes. The first seconds of such events were only possible with previous models.

The DART mission was launched in November of 2021. Didymos is an 800-meter wide rock with a 170-meter wide moon that is the main target of DART. The mini-moon will be hit at a rate of 15000 miles per hour. There will be an impact in late September or early October.

The purpose of the test is to see if impactor technology can be used to stop asteroids from hitting us. NASA and other agencies keep a close eye on asteroids that come too close for comfort in order to assess whether or not they pose a threat to our planet. There is no clear plan on how to defend Earth from asteroids.

Smaller amounts of material could be ejected from the impact of the weak asteroids than was previously thought. Immediately after the DART impact, these larger effects should be easier to see. The DART mission will be able to perform the experiment with a different outcome than expected.

The follow-up mission is being planned by the European Space Agency. The Hera mission will rendezvous with Didymos by 2026 to study the impact crater left behind by DART and any other changes made to the asteroid. It is possible that Dimorphos has taken on a different appearance.

This will allow us to learn more about the asteroid's interior. Valuable information about the asteroid's bulk properties would be provided by this.

The first pictures of the spacecraft that is going to smash into an asteroid were sent back.