Asteroid is Hit by NASA’s DART Mission in First-Ever Planetary Defense Test

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Written By Prajeeta Basnet

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Asteroid is Hit by NASA’s DART Mission in First-Ever Planetary Defense Test: The world’s first planetary defense technology demonstration, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), successfully impacted its asteroid target on Monday after spending 10 months in space. This was the agency’s first attempt to move an asteroid in orbit.

At 7:14 p.m. EDT, the successful impact was announced by mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. DART’s collision with the asteroid Dimorphos illustrates a workable mitigation approach for defending the globe from an Earth-bound asteroid or comet, should one be identified, as part of NASA’s wider planetary defense strategy. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remarked, “At its core, DART marks an extraordinary success for planetary security, but it is also a mission of unity with a tangible benefit for all humanity.

In addition to studying the cosmos and our home planet, NASA is also striving to defend it.

This worldwide partnership turned science fiction into science fact and illustrated one strategy to protect Earth. The mission’s successful one-way flight demonstrated that NASA can steer a spacecraft to kinetically contact an asteroid in order to divert it.

The study team will now use ground-based telescopes to observe Dimorphos in order to verify that the asteroid’s orbit around Didymos was altered by the impact of DART. One of the main goals of the full-scale test is to properly measure how much the asteroid was deflected. Scientists anticipate that the hit will reduce Dimorphos’ orbit by about 1%, or roughly 10 minutes.

Every person who lives on Earth is impacted by Planetary Defense, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. All we need to do to significantly alter an asteroid’s course is to slightly alter its speed.

DART was able to recognize and differentiate between the two asteroids, allowing it to target the smaller body. The spacecraft’s sole instrument, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO), along with sophisticated guidance, navigation, and control system that works in tandem with Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real-Time Navigation (SMART Nav) algorithms, made this possible.

With the objective of gently slowing the asteroid’s orbital speed, these technologies guided the box-shaped spacecraft, weighing 1,260 pounds (570 kilograms), across the final 56,000 miles (90,000 kilometers) of space and into Dimorphos. The final photographs from DRACO, taken by the spacecraft just before impact, provided a detailed view of Dimorphos’ surface.

The Italian Space Agency’s Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube), a companion CubeSat for DART, was launched from the spacecraft fifteen days before impact to take pictures of the impact and the asteroid’s expelled material cloud. The LICIACube photos are meant to provide a glimpse of the collision’s consequences in conjunction with the DRACO images in order to aid researchers in better characterizing the efficiency of kinetic impact in deflecting an asteroid. Since LICIACube lacks a big antenna, pictures will be downlinked to Earth one at a time during the next few weeks.

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