NASA’s DART mission details and asteroid collision view


NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) probe is headed toward the asteroid moon Demorphos on Sept. 27 in an attempt to change its orbit around its parent body, asteroid Didymos. The broadcast will display images from DART’s DRACO instrument, the spacecraft’s only science instrument.

“The DRACO images are going to be absolutely stunning,” said Nancy Chabot, head of DART coordination at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Research Laboratory, during a press conference.

“You’ll come to an asteroid that no one’s seen before,” Chabot said. “You’ll see things that are tens of centimeters in size for that final image and then they’ll be cut out… I think that’s going to be great.”

The images will return to Earth at a rate of one image per second, and we will see them in real time on NASA TV, and officials expect that the real display will occur about two minutes before the collision, when the asteroid begins to fill the camera view.

“We’re honestly very excited to see what it looks like,” said Michelle Chen, chief engineer of the DART algorithm known as SMART Nav.

Also, because Earth will be about seven million miles (11 million kilometers) from the asteroid pair upon impact, engineers cannot manually steer DART, instead SMART Nav will autonomously steer the spacecraft to the asteroid and have all systems ready for the major crash. .

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