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NASA's Asteroid Mission - DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test)

Have you heard of NASA’s recent mission to crash into an asteroid? Called the DART Mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), it is part of a larger NASA initiative called Planetary Defense, which has the goal of protecting the Earth from Near Earth Objects. Near Earth Objects (NEO’s for short) are space objects like asteroids and comets that pass within 30 million miles of the Earth’s orbit. Click on the image below to watch an entertainig video about NEOs:

Near Earth Objects NASA

NASA setup the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to detect, identify and track these NEO’s, working with partners around the globe. They develop methods for dealing with NEO’s that may come too close to Earth in the future. 

One method to deal with a NEO (Near Earth Object) that comes TOO CLOSE to Earth is to change its orbit by knocking it off-course. The DART Mission was the very first test of this method! The asteroid was not an actual threat, so this mission was a practice run. 

DART used a spacecraft specially-designed for this mission. The DART Mission targeted 2 asteroids orbiting 6 million miles from Earth! The smaller asteroid, Dimorphos, is only 120 meters across. It circles around the larger asteroid, called Didymos. 


The spacecraft aimed to crash into the smaller asteroid, a very small target in space! Click here to visit the NASA Planetary Defense website for more info! 

On September 26, 2022, the DART spacecraft successfully crashed into the Dimorphos asteroid. Recent data from the mission indicates that it did actually change the orbit of the asteroid Dimorphos, even more than expected! Read more details in Science News. 

This NASA mission is one of the topics discussed in the Particle Physics & Science Club! We also learn about the lab and scientists involved in the project. The Particle Physics & Science Club is offered on Mondays 4-4:50pm and Fridays 12-12:50pm. As a weekly ongoing course, students may join and leave the club at any time, exploring physics and science topics in a flexible format.

We look forward to sharing more physics & science news with you!

Learning about Photons and The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Have you heard of photons? Photons exist in many energy wavelengths that make up the electromagnetic spectrum. Below are some resources to learn more about the intriguing topic of photons!

Resource #1: How animals and humans see the world.

Many animals sense light differently from humans. This video explains how 20 different animals see the world, from dogs to turtles: 

To understand in more detail how humans actually sense colors, check out this TED talk on the subject:

Resource #2: The glowing human body

Science researchers have discovered that humans emit visible light, in a range that changes throughout the day. This article explains the research process, and the short video below describes the scientists' findings:

Resource #3: Silicon emitting light?

Silicon, a key ingredient in computer chips, has recently been made to emit photons. Scientists have been trying to do this for over 50 years, and have only recently succeeded. This exciting breakthrough opens up the possibility of data-carrying photons and using photons in computer chips!

Check out this Wired article to learn more

Resource #4: How do lasers work?  

One amazing use of photons is in lasers. This short video explains, in accessible language, how lasers work: 


Learning About States of Matter

Popsicles, ice pops and paletas are a favorite summertime (or any time) treat. They are also a fun way to get kids involved in learning about the three primary states of matter (solid, liquid and gas), focusing on the solid and liquid states of water. And since they're so easy to make and relatively fail-safe, they can be a great way for kids to start experimenting with creating their own inventive ideas. 

Here's some fun videos to jumpstart your ice pop creations. Note: these videos are intended for inspiration only, not to follow as a specific recipes (some of the recipes are a bit complicated). Instead, kids are encouraged to make their own choices and recipes. Let them take the lead, and keep it simple and fun! 

10 Popsicle Recipes - Just 2 Ingredients

Homemade Popsicles: 5 Different Treats

How to Make Paletas 

This fun article delves into the origins and popularity of paletas. 

If you don't have popsicle molds handy, ice cube trays can also be used to make ice pops. All you have to do is fill the ice cube trays, cover with aluminum foil, and then poke toothpicks through the foil so they are in the middle of each liquid cube, then place in the freezer. For instructions and visuals, click here. 

Kids are encouraged to take pictures of their ice pop creations, to take notes on how they turned out, and what they would like to try next. (Teaching prototyping skills with popsicles.) 

Enjoy your frozen treats!