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NASA's DART mission to hit and deflect Dimorphos

news-details Image Source Nov 14, 2021 17:33 IST · 1 min read

NASA will launch the agency's first planetary defense test mission named the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).

The main aim of the mission is to test the newly developed technology that would allow a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and change its course.

The spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.


DART is a low-cost spacecraft, weighing around 610 kg at launch and 550 kg during impact.

It also carries about 10 kg of xenon which will be used to demonstrate the agency's new thrusters called NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) in space.

DART will also carry a small satellite or CubeSat named LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids).

LICIACube will be deployed ten days before the impact on Dimorphos.

The spacecraft carries a high-resolution imager called Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO).


The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos (Greek for "two forms").

It is about 160-metre in diameter and the spacecraft is expected to collide when it is 11 million kilometres away from Earth.

Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for "twin") which has a diameter of 780 metres.

The asteroid and the moonlet do not pose any threat to Earth and the mission is to test the new technology to be prepared in case an asteroid heads towards Earth in the future.

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