NASA spacecraft to hit an asteroid in 2022

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DART, Binary Asteroid System, Didymos

Mains level : Planetary Defence


  • NASA is planning to launch a spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will hit a small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.


  • The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – Nasa’s first mission to demonstrate a planetary defence technique — is scheduled to be launched in mid-2021, the US space agency said on Monday.
  • By using solar electric propulsion, DART will intercept the target when the asteroid will be within 11 million km of Earth.
  • To navigate the DART spacecraft to its intended target — a binary asteroid that consists of a small moon (Didymos B) orbiting a larger body (Didymos A) — scientists need to understand how the system behaves.
  • Scientists have been making efforts to observe Didymos from Earth since 2015 as it is too small and too far to be seen as anything more than a point of light

Earth is a binary asteroid system. How?

  • A moonlet is a small moon whereas a binary asteroid system is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common barycentre.
  • The barycentre is the centre of mass of two or more bodies that are orbiting each other which is the point around which they both orbit.
  • The spacecraft will hit a small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries
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