DART Mission Successfully Boops Dimorphos

On Monday, September 26, in front of a global audience, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test successfully hit the tiny, 160-meter asteroid Dimorphos.

Beth Johnson

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IMAGE: This illustration depicts NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft prior to impact at the Didymos binary asteroid system. CREDIT: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

Congratulations to the DART mission teams! On Monday, September 26, at 23:14 UTC, in front of a global audience, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test successfully hit the tiny, 160-meter asteroid Dimorphos. Images streamed in from the onboard camera, DRACO, as the spacecraft approached the rocky surface, ending with a barely started image before going dark. But what a set of images they were up until then.

When the feed first went live, DART was still focused on Didymos, the larger of the binary asteroids, also referred to as the primary, as the spacecraft could not yet resolve the two bodies separately. Then, around T minus one hour, the autonomous system, or SMART Nav, needed to detect Didymoon, begin tracking the satellite, and lock onto it. During the SETI Institute’s live stream, DART Lead Investigator Andy Cheng announced that the spacecraft had achieved all of those goals and was on approach to the target. Moments later, Dimorphos was finally resolvable in the DRACO live feed.

Over the next 45 minutes, features on both Didymos and Dimorphos began to come into view…

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Beth Johnson

Planetary scientist, podcast host. Communication specialist for SETI Institute and Planetary Science Institute. Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/planetarypan