NASA’s DART Mission Successfully Alters Asteroid’s Orbit

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was a successful planetary defense mission to test whether the orbit of an asteroid could be altered by crashing a spacecraft into it.[0] On September 26, 2022, the DART spacecraft made an impact with a tiny asteroid moon called Dimorphos, which circles a bigger asteroid known as Didymos.[0] The results of the experiment were published in the journal Nature, alongside four additional scientific reports.

The impact remarkably shortened Dimorphos' orbit by about 33 minutes — more than 25 times the minimum benchmark for mission success.[1] Simultaneously, the debris liberated formed a tail that extended over 1,500 kilometers.[2] For roughly three weeks, the team used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the tail, and they discovered that its shape was much like that of “active asteroids,” which have a comet-like tail and an asteroid-like orbit.[2] This indicates that impacts can act as triggers for asteroids.[3]

Scheduled for an October 2024 liftoff, the European Space Agency's Hera mission will be returning to the Didymos-Dimorphos system to evaluate further the DART experiment's outcomes.[4] The resulting crater is of particular interest.[5] According to Cheng, the crater might be so immense that it appears to be more than just a crater; the DART mission could have removed a substantial portion of the impacted side.[5] The impact of Didymos on Dimorphos had the potential to cause the asteroid to enter a chaotic tumbling state, whereas prior to the impact, the object had been tidally locked to Didymos.[5] Hera will look into this as well as other unresolved queries.[5]

The Hubble clip reveals how the collision turned Dimorphos into an “active asteroid,” a space rock that orbits like an asteroid but has a tail of material like a comet.[6] It has been speculated by scientists for some time that active asteroids originate from impacts, but this is the first occasion in which such a transformation has been observed in the present.[6]

Researchers led by Terik Daly, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, provided a point-by-point reconstruction of DART’s approach, impact, and fallout on Dimorphos, and concluded that “the resulting change in Dimorphos's orbit demonstrates that kinetic impactor technology is a viable technique to potentially defend Earth if necessary.[7]

0. “Hubble captures timelapse video of DART spacecraft impacting asteroid” New Atlas, 2 Mar. 2023,

1. “Astronomers still have their eyes on that asteroid NASA whacked” WBUR News, 4 Mar. 2023,

2. “3Q: What we learned from the asteroid-smashing DART mission” MIT News, 2 Mar. 2023,

3. “DART Impact Provided Real-time Data On The Evolution Of Asteroid Didymos' Debris” Space Ref, 4 Mar. 2023,

4. “Remember the DART impact? Hubble Made a Movie of the Debris” Universe Today, 1 Mar. 2023,

5. “NASA's DART Mission Changed the Course of Planetary Defense” Gizmodo, 1 Mar. 2023,

6. “New Studies Cement DART Asteroid Mission's Smashing Success: NASA |” The Weather Channel, 3 Mar. 2023,

7. “Humanity Officially Has a Viable Defence Against Killer Asteroids, NASA Confirms” VICE, 1 Mar. 2023,

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