Вадим Дудченко
Администратор портала

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission launched November 24, 2021 at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the United States. At 2:17 a.m. EST, DART separated from the second stage of the rocket. Minutes later, mission operators received the first spacecraft telemetry data and started the process of orienting the spacecraft to a safe position for deploying its solar arrays. About two hours later, the spacecraft completed the successful unfurling of its two, 8.5-m- (28-foot) long, roll-out solar arrays. DART’s single instrument, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO), will turn on a week from now and provide first images from the spacecraft. DART will continue to travel just outside of Earth’s orbit around the Sun for the next 10 months until its target — the binary asteroid system Didymos — will be a relatively close 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth.

DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.

This method will have DART deliberately collide with a target asteroid — which poses no threat to Earth — in order to slightly change its speed and path.

“DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“In addition to all the ways NASA studies our Universe and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.”

DART’s target is the binary, near-Earth asteroid system Didymos, composed of the roughly 780-m- (2,560-foot) diameter Didymos and the smaller, approximately 160-m- (530-foot) size moonlet Dimorphos, which orbits Didymos.

DART will impact Dimorphos to change its orbit within the binary system.

Since Dimorphos orbits Didymos at much a slower relative speed than the pair orbits the Sun, the result of DART’s kinetic impact within the binary system can be measured much more easily than a change in the orbit of a single asteroid around the Sun.

This illustration shows NASA’s DART spacecraft and ASI’s LICIACube spacecraft prior to impact at the binary asteroid system Didymos. Image credit: NASA / Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory / Steve Gribben.

“We have not yet found any significant asteroid impact threat to Earth, but we continue to search for that sizable population we know is still to be found,” said Dr. Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters.

“Our goal is to find any possible impact, years to decades in advance, so it can be deflected with a capability like DART that is possible with the technology we currently have.”

“DART is one aspect of NASA’s work to prepare Earth should we ever be faced with an asteroid hazard.”

“In tandem with this test, we are preparing the Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission, an space-based infrared telescope scheduled for launch later this decade and designed to expedite our ability to discover and characterize the potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.”

DART will intercept the Didymos system between September 26 and October 1, 2022, intentionally slamming into Dimorphos at roughly 6 km per second (4 mph).

Scientists estimate the kinetic impact will shorten Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos by several minutes.

LICIACube, a CubeSat riding with DART and provided by the Italian Space Agency, will be released prior to DART’s impact to capture images of the impact and the resulting cloud of ejected matter.

Roughly four years after DART’s impact, ESA’s Hera project will conduct detailed surveys of both asteroids, with particular focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and a precise determination of Dimorphos’ mass.

“It is an indescribable feeling to see something you’ve been involved with since the ‘words on paper’ stage become real and launched into space,” said Dr. Andy Cheng, one of the DART investigation leads at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the individual who came up with the idea of DART.

“This is just the end of the first act, and the DART investigation and engineering teams have much work to do over the next year preparing for the main event — DART’s kinetic impact on Dimorphos. But tonight we celebrate!”


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