NASA-Johns Hopkins APL Team Unveils New Name of Asteroid Target for DART Mission


The International Astronomical Union has approved an official name for the Didymos asteroid system’s smaller moon that will serve as the target of an experiment by NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

APL said Monday the Dimorphos moon, previously known as Didymos B, will be used for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test meant to provide insight into how kinetic impact can be used to change the orbit of an asteroid.

The NASA-APL team plans to use the LICIACube minisatellite from the Italian Space Agency to facilitate in-space recording of the DART operation in 2022.

Andrea Riley, program executive for DART at NASA, said the team intends to use data from the experiment to discover new methods for deflecting asteroids to support planetary defense operations.

The announcement comes after APL and NASA finished integrating Aerjoet Rocketdyne engines into the primary DART architecture in May ahead of its 14-month journey to the binary asteroid system.

The European Space Agency is working with the DART team in preparation for a separate mission called Hera which will take place after the deflection test.

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