Nearly a year after its launch, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART spacecraft, successfully crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos, in the first ever planetary defense test. Dimorphos orbits Didymos, its much larger companion rock, and this test was to determine if the DART spacecraft could change Dimorphos’ path as part of NASA’s asteroid deflection strategy to defend Earth from any threatening asteroids or comets.
Weeks after DART’s successful collision with the asteroid, NASA confirmed that the orbit of Dimorphos was in fact impacted. Prior to DART crashing into it, Dimorphos would take 11 hours and 55 minutes to fully orbit Didymos. Scientists who have been monitoring this confirmed that the asteroid’s orbit now only takes 11 hours and 23 minutes, shortening the orbit time by 32 minutes. NASA had originally considered a change in orbit time of at least 73 seconds to be a successful one. NASA will continue to monitor the outcome of DART’s impact including additional orbital changes as well as momentum transfer efficiency of the actual collision.
VPT is proud to have parts on board this program and we congratulate NASA and their partners on the success of this mission.