Double Asteroid Redirect Test - DART


Valued Senior Member
This is a nasa Planetary Defense experiment that proposes to crash a small spacecraft at high relative velocity (~15,000 mph/24,000 km/h) into a small asteroid about 160 meters across. The small asteroid is named Dimorphos and orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos like a tiny moon. The larger asteroid is about 780 meters across.

It must be emphasized that neither asteroid represents a danger to Earth. The Planetary Defense people just want to see how much they can deflect Dimorphos's orbit with a high-speed collision. Dimorphos can be observed with Earth based telescopes which have been characterizing its orbital characteristics very precisely and will do so after the collision.

Prior to DART's collision with the asteroid it will release a little cubesat called LICIACube, which will observe the impact and hopefully return imagery.

I was skeptical about this at first, thinking how much energy can a small spacecraft impart to an asteroid. (DART is ~500 kg) It turns out quite a bit. Kinetic energy is proportional to the mass of the impactor and to the square of its velocity. So if you can impact something with even a modest mass at high enough velocity, it represents very high energies.

KE = 1/2mv^2

The DART vehicle is to be launched at 10:21 PM PST this Tuesday, 1:21 AM Wednesday EST and 06:21 Wednesday UTC. It will be launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California atop SpaceX Falcon 9 B1063. B1063 is on its third flight and will be recovered by OCISLY which is stationed out of Long Beach in the Pacific now. Expect livestreams in the usual places like and maybe nasa-live.

This photo is a solid block of aluminum that was struck by a two ounce (56.7 gram) piece of plastic traveling at 15,000 mph (24,140 km/h) in a test. Even small masses can pack quite a punch.

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DART will be livestreamed by nasalive. They will have technical discussions by the scientists as well. The actual asteroid impact won't happen for ten months, in September 2022. But when it happens, nasa-live will be the stream to watch. will probably be best for launch video and definitely for the booster recovery landing says that they will be streaming it too. I believe they will rebroadcast the nasa feed with their own commentary
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