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Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)



The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is designed to evaluate the kinetic impact technique by striking an asteroid with a spacecraft at high relative velocity and observing the resulting change in orbit. The test involves flying the DART spacecraft at high relative velocity into the smaller of two asteroids that are co-orbiting in a binary pair, and using Earth-based observations before and after the impact to study the effects on the orbit.

The primary objective is to assess kinetic impact as a method for redirection of any future asteroids found to be on a trajectory to impact Earth, with the primary goals: (1)perform a full-scale demonstration of the spacecraft kinetic impact technique for deflection of an asteroid; (2) measure the resulting asteroid deflection, by targeting the secondary member of a binary NEO and measuring the resulting changes of the binary orbit; and (3) study hypervelocity collision effects on an asteroid, validating models for momentum transfer in asteroid impacts.

Mission Profile

DART is scheduled for launch in the summer of 2021. It will head to the binary S-type asteroid 65803 Didymos, consisting of a primary, Didymos A, roughly 0.8 km in diameter, and a secondary, Didymos B, roughly 160 meters across. It will reach Didymos in October 2022, taking images during approach to constrain the size and shape of Didymos A and B. In the last 4 hours before impact, DART will employ the DRACO and SMARTNav systems to target the asteroid. During this time it will also be returning detailed images of the surface of Didymos B to pinpoint the exact impact site and to determine the local surface geology for later impact modelling.

The spacecraft will fly into Didymos B at approximately 6 km/sec. The final images returned 2 seconds before impact will have a resolution of 3 cm/pixel. After impact, Earth-based observations will continue in order to characterize the resulting change in orbit of Didymos B induced by the impact. The distance to Earth at impact will be approximately 10.9 million km.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The spacecraft is a box-shaped main bus with two large solar panel wings and a total mass of approximately 500 kg. Propulsion will be provided by the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) ion engine. It will carry a single instrument, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for OpNav (DRACO), which will provide images for the Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real-Time Navigation (SMARTNav) algorithm to be used for guidance, navigation, and control operations in targeting the asteroid.

Alternate Names

  • DoubleAsteroidRedirectionTest(DART)
  • DART

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2021-07-01
Launch Vehicle: Unknown
Launch Site: ,
Mass: 500 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Cheryl ReedProject ManagerApplied Physics
Dr. Andrew F. ChengProject ScientistApplied Physics
Dr. Andy RivkinProject ScientistApplied Physics
Dr. Tom StatlerProgram ScientistNASA
Dr. Scott BellamyMission ManagerNASA Marshall Space Flight
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