Astronomy, Primary, Pythagorean Astronomy, Schools

Pythagorean Astronomy: On Board with DART

Illustration of the DART spacecraft and LICIACube prior to impact at the Didymos binary system.

Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube prior to impact at the Didymos binary system. Image credit: Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

At the end of September, NASA’s DART mission was deliberately crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos. Not carelessness, but a deliberate act with a view to testing planetary defense. After all, if we discover something large heading towards Earth, we might want to be able to nudge it off course.

Here in Wales, the Comet Chasers team took a diversion from observing comets to looking at Dimorphos with the Las Combres Observatory global network of telescopes. But they weren’t the ones doing the observing – that work is done by school children and members of the public at festivals and the like.

Team members Cai Stoddard-Jones, Helen Usher and Prof Paul Roche explain the purpose of the mission, what it’s taught us, and what contribution the school students have been making to “help NASA”.

An extended edition of an original broadcast on 2nd November 2022 as part of Pythagoras’ Trousers on Radio Cardiff.