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DART -Double Asteroid Redirection Test Mission

DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test Mission)  – Learn with us how we humans will protect ourselves from huge space rocks! 

dart, space, nasa
Illustration of DART Spacecraft | Credits - NASA |

Dinosaurs, once walked on this vary earth on which we are living, got extinct due to an asteroid impact forming the famous Chicxulub crater. In July 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter and the impact created a great dark spot over 12000 km across. To date, a lot of Sci-Fi movies have been made on missions to change the orbit of huge asteroids that could potentially eradicate our home planet.

What if someday a huge asteroid is discovered that is going to impact earth? What we are going to do? Let us dive in, to know How NASA is planning to protect us all.

NASA began Mission DART that is a demonstration of kinetic impactor technology to adjust the speed and path of the asteroid. It is a mission directed by NASA to Applied Physics Laboratory with support from various NASA centers such as JPL, JSC, GRC, and LaRC.

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Illustration of DART's impact that will alter the orbit of Dimporphos about Didymos. | Credits - Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory |
The target of the Mission

Didymos, the binary near-earth asteroid is the target for the DART mission that means “twin” in Greek. The binary system is composed of two asteroids where Didymos is the primary and the largest body with a diameter of 780 meters where Dimorphos is the secondary body (moonlet) with a diameter of about 160-meters that orbits the largest body. These asteroids having a size of more than 140 meters cause a threat to Earth.

How it will work?

Dart Spacecraft will first achieve a velocity of around 6.6 km/sec and then, it will crash on the moonlet, guiding itself with the help of a camera named DRACO and autonomous navigation software. Thus, kinematic impact deflection will help in reducing the time taken by Dimorphos to orbit Didymos by several minutes. The whole mission can be closely observed with the help of Earth telescopes and thus, by observing the regular variation in the brightness of the system the orbit of the moonlet is determined.

For better observation from Earth, they are planning to send the DART mission in 2021 and it will impact the moonlet when the distance between the Earth and asteroid is minimum so that they can enable the highest quality telescopic observations and planetary radar to measure the change in momentum imparted to the moonlet. The mission’s main purpose is to bring the moonlet orbit closer to the primary asteroid i.e. Didymos.

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Illustration of DART Mission | Credits - NASA |

The DART mission is designed to develop the measures and its capability to respond to asteroid impact threat, and then, we no longer have to worry about a wandering space rock impacting the earth and wiping out life as it did with dinosaurs.

JPL – Jet Propulsion Laboratory
GSFC – Goddard Space Flight Center
JSC – Johnson Space Center
GRC – Glenn Research Center
LaRC – Langley Research Center
DART – Double Asteroid Redirection Test

* The information provided herein is, to the best of our knowledge and is only for informative purpose. If you have a news update or correction, let us know at

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