(NASA / Johns Hopkins APL)
NASA launched the first DART planetary defense vehicle into space using SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
It is expected that in the fall of next year, the device will change the orbit of a near-earth asteroid by a controlled ram, this is necessary to perfect the methods of planetary protection.
The task of the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) will be to test one of the methods of protecting the Earth from dangerous asteroids.
The ship will impact the asteroid and change its orbit.
As a test target, the 160-meter asteroid Dimorph was chosen, which is part of the binary system (65803) Didyma from the Apollo family and orbits the 750-meter main body.
It is assumed that the change in Dimorph's orbit around Didyma will manifest itself in a change in the orbital period of the asteroid by 4-7 minutes.
The device weighs 550 kilograms, it is equipped with solar and star sensors, as well as a DRACO camera with an aperture of 20.8 centimeters
It also has a LICIACube cubesat, which will separate from DART a few days before contact with the asteroid and will monitor the collision.
DART will reach the target with the help of xenon ion engines, which will receive energy from the deployed ROSA solar panels.
The Falcon 9 launch vehicle with DART took place at 01:21 local time from the SLC-4E site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
This launch used the twice-flown first stage of the rocket, which after work landed on a barge in the ocean.
The separation of the vehicle took place almost an hour after the launch.
It is expected that the ram itself will occur on October 2, 2022, and in 2027 the European station Hera will reach Dimorph
Hera will investigate the system in detail and additionally confirm the change in Dimorph's orbit.
- NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense/dart