NASA’s DART mission is about to slam into an asteroid in the first ever planetary defense test (Successful)

Aviation, aerospace, space, they are all basically the same right?

Original topic for the launch

Early next week at:


(converted automatically to our local time) after nearly a year in transit NASA’s DART mission will slam into the asteroid Dimorphos in the first ever test of protecting earth from an asteroid. Don’t worry though, this is just a test, if the mission fails the asteroid is never going to get anywhere near earth. This will though be the first time a system designed to protect the earth from a potentially dangerous asteroid will be tested in the real world.

Mission profile
(Largely copied from launch topic)

DART or Doublle Astroid Redirection Test launched from Vandenberg Space Force Station in California in November of 2021. The roughly 500 kg space craft initially entered a polar parking orbit, before escaping earth and heading to an Astroid known as 65803 Didymos. This astroid is actually not one, but two astroids in a binary system. (Hence its name as Didymos which is the Greek word for twin) Here the spacecraft will basically in simple terms try to hit the smaller of the two astroids as hard as possible. DART will hit the astroid at about 6.6 km/sec, and this impact is expected to change the astroids orbital speed around the larger of the two astroids in the pair by just 0.5 mm/sec. That may sound insignificant, but over time this could create a change in orbital period of more than 10 minuets. If directed early enough this would actually be enough of a change to alter the course of an astroid that was genuinely earth bound to a safer trajectory.

Timeline of the impact

  • 4 hours to impact, DART enters autonomous mode with it’s SMART Nav guidance system. At this point it is targeting Didymos becuase it can not see Dimorphos (the smaller of the two and the target) yet.
  • about 50 mins before impact the spacecraft will switch to targeting the moonlet which it will have been able to see for about 40 minutes at this point.
  • 20 mins to impact, DART enters “precision lock” where it now ignores the larger of the two in the pair and entirely focuses on it’s target.
  • 2.5 mins to impact, DART disables it’s thrusters to ensure a more stable base for DRACO camera to image the surface. From here its trajectory is set and it will coast in at 14,760 mph, or 4 miles per second.
  • 3 minutes after impact, the Italian cube sat LICIACube will fly by and see the dust cloud and any major changes to the surface of the astroid.

What else to expect

One of the coolest parts of the mission in my opinion is the Italian Cube sat called LICIACube that is along for the ride. A few days ago it popped off the side of DART and will now follow it while recording the impact. It is currently unclear as far as I can find what format or where that content will be, but there should be some cool pictures/videos somewhere after this mission is done. It will also image the dust plume and the impact site to try to better understand the composition of the astroid and how the astroid reacts to the impact. DART itself will also be taking close up pictures of the astroid on its final approach. This is why there are no control inputs in the final moments, any thruster firings would make it too shakey and the images would be ruined. If this were being done for real they would likely forego the science collection to make sure that a successful impact occurred. But this mission is as much about understanding asteroids and how they react to impacts as it is about seeing the effects of an impact, so collecting images of the surface is very important.



Wow very interesting

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History in the making 🫡

Super cool mission! There should also be a livestream of the camera’s view as the projectile starts approaching the asteroid (heard that Wednesday at an IAC conference).

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Fascinating mission and description!

It’s interesting we’re this far along in human history and we are just now getting around to this, even though the Earth would look as cratered as the moon without the atmosphere to erase nearly all the eons of impact evidence.

In fact, earlier in the solar system’s history there was just distributed mass itself waiting to congeal into planets.

One would hope we were mostly congealed. But the absence of dinosaurs and the NEO maps suggest DART is a worthy goal:


NASA Official Livestream :

(and as usual NASA can’t do a proper broadcast…)

Other (better quality) :

woohoo! congrats NASA team!

Impact successful, more data from the LICIACube will come soon.


They did it. They actually did it. Not only is humanity able to land robots on asteroids, we’re actually able to change their direction. How cool is that! 🤯


The best part is that it changed the direction way more than anticipated. Like almost 3 times as much. That’s awesome news because that means not only can we change an astroid’s orbit, but it’s actually easier than anticipated. Assuming this test is representative of course, it is just a sample size of one.

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