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NASA Delays Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission

nasa has delayed the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission due to issues in two major components of the spacecraft: one involves its main instrument, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical-navigation (DRACO), which needs to be reinforced to withstand the launch environment and the other is its solar panels, known as Roll-Out Solar Arrays (ROSA), whose delivery has been delayed by supply chain issues caused in part by the pandemic.

About Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission

  • The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid.
  • DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.
  • The binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos is the target for the DART demonstration. While the Didymos primary body is approximately 780 meters across, its secondary body (or “moonlet”) is about 160-meters in size, which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose the most likely significant threat to Earth. They are separated by just over a kilometer.
  • The DART spacecraft will achieve the kinetic impact deflection by deliberately crashing itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6.6 km/s, with the aid of an onboard camera (named DRACO) and sophisticated autonomous navigation software. The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, but this will change the orbital period of the moonlet by several minutes - enough to be observed and measured using telescopes on Earth.