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Double Asteroid Redirection Test Illustration
Science & Technology

NASA To Launch Double Asteroid Redirection Test Mission – Preventing a Hazardous Asteroid From Striking Earth

Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Area Company’s (ASI) LICIACube previous to influence on the Didymos binary system. Credit score: NASA/Johns Hopkins, APL/Steve Gribben

NASA is prepared for the upcoming launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, an analysis of applied sciences for stopping a hazardous asteroid from placing Earth.

DART is focused to launch at 10:20 p.m. PST, November 23, 2021, (1:20 a.m. EST, November 24), aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Area Power Base in California. Stay protection of the launch will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the company’s website.

DART would be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique, which includes sending a number of giant, high-speed spacecraft into the trail of an asteroid in area to alter its movement. Its goal is the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos and its moonlet.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is meant to collide with the smaller of two our bodies of the Didymos binary asteroid system in autumn 2022. Credit score: ESA

DART is a planetary defense-driven take a look at of applied sciences for stopping an influence of Earth by a hazardous asteroid. DART would be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor approach to alter the movement of an asteroid in area.

The binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos is the goal for the DART demonstration. Whereas the Didymos major physique is roughly 780 meters throughout, its secondary physique (or “moonlet”) is about 160-meters in dimension, which is extra typical of the dimensions of asteroids that would pose the probably important menace to Earth. The Didymos binary is being intensely noticed utilizing telescopes on Earth to exactly measure its properties earlier than DART arrives.

The DART spacecraft will obtain the kinetic influence deflection by intentionally crashing itself into the moonlet at a velocity of roughly 6.6 km/s, with the help of an onboard digital camera (named DRACO) and complicated autonomous navigation software program. The collision will change the velocity of the moonlet in its orbit round the primary physique by a fraction of 1 %, however this can change the orbital interval of the moonlet by a number of minutes – sufficient to be noticed and measured utilizing telescopes on Earth.

Illustration of the DART spacecraft with the Roll Out Photo voltaic Arrays (ROSA) prolonged. Every of the 2 ROSA arrays in 8.6 meters by 2.3 meters. Credit score: NASA

As soon as launched, DART will deploy Roll Out Photo voltaic Arrays (ROSA) to offer the solar energy wanted for DART’s electrical propulsion system. The DART spacecraft will show the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster – Business (NEXT-C) photo voltaic electrical propulsion system as a part of its in-space propulsion. NEXT-C is a next-generation system primarily based on the Daybreak spacecraft propulsion system, and was developed at NASA’s Glenn Analysis Middle in Cleveland, Ohio. By using electrical propulsion, DART may benefit from important flexibility to the mission timeline whereas demonstrating the following technology of ion engine know-how, with functions to potential future NASA missions.

DART will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Power Base, California. After separation from the launch car and over a 12 months of cruise it’ll intercept Didymos’ moonlet in late September 2022, when the Didymos system is inside 11 million kilometers of Earth, enabling observations by ground-based telescopes and planetary radar to measure the change in momentum imparted to the moonlet.

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