NASA’s DART Mission Today To Change Orbital Path Of An Asteroid Has LANL Connection

Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube prior to impact at the Didymos binary system. Photo CourtesyNASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben


Scientists around the world will be watching as NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is set to make history today, Monday at around 5 p.m. Mountain Time as the world’s first planetary defense test. The DART Mission is an experiment to change the orbital path of an asteroid. A kinetic impactor will strike Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting a larger asteroid, Didymos. The goal is to change the orbital path of Dimorphos.

Cathy Plesko, a Planetary Defense Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is part of NASA’s DART Investigation Team. She explains the method being tested to deflect the asteroid here:

If successful, Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos should change by about 10 minutes. Scientists at LANL created asteroid-impact simulations for DART using high-performance computers to simulate the impact. DART is testing asteroid deflection in case it were ever needed for planetary defense. 

How Will We Know if NASA’s DART Mission Successfully Changed an Asteroid’s Orbit? See here:

NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) will host a live broadcast of the DART spacecraft approaching and impacting its target asteroid. Live coverage is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time on NASA TVNASA YouTubeNASA Twitter and NASA Facebook.