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“Didymos”
Earth Strikes Back: NASA Probe Will Crash into Asteroid in 7 Weeks
Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The countdown is on for NASA’s first attempt to deflect an asteroid — a test that could prove vital in the future should one pose a major threat to the Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Mission (DART) mission is 48 days away from its collision with asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26. Edward Reynolds, DART program manager at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, gave a preview of the mission and the role a Cubesat will play in it during the Small Satellite 2022 conference in Logan, Utah.

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  • August 9, 2022
Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Company, Completes Critical Design Review of Deep Space Bound Milani Satellite

The nanosatellite will support the European Space Agency’s Hera Mission

Milani scans Didymos (Image Credit: ESA / Science Office)

TURIN, Italy (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the aerospace and defense industries, today announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tyvak International SRL, has together with its partners, achieved full Critical Design Review of the Milani spacecraft. A critical component of the Hera planetary defense mission, Milani will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first deep-space nanosatellite. Milani will also be the first nanosatellite ever to orbit an asteroid. Tyvak International is responsible for Milani’s design, build, and mission operations. In this exploration, Tyvak International is joined by an excellent consortium of European industries and research centers from Finland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

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  • June 21, 2022
Europe’s Hera Asteroid Mission’s Takes a Major Step

PARIS (ESA PR) — A key element of ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence has left the facilities of its manufacturer OHB in Bremen – a major step in preparation for its eventual odyssey to the Didymos asteroid system. The mission’s Propulsion Module flight model, seen here, has been delivered to Avio, southeast of Rome, where propellant tanks, thrusters and associated pipes and valves will be integrated with it. The fully equipped Propulsion Module is […]

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  • June 16, 2022
NASA Goddard Helps Ensure Asteroid Deflector Hits Target, Predicts and Will Observe Impact Results
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Although the chance of an asteroid impacting Earth is small, even a relatively small asteroid of about 500 feet (about 150 meters) across carries enough energy to cause widespread damage around the impact site. NASA leads efforts in the U.S. and worldwide both to detect and track potentially hazardous asteroids and to study technologies to mitigate or avoid impacts on Earth. If an asteroid were discovered and determined to be on a collision course with Earth, one response could be to launch a “kinetic impactor” – a high-velocity spacecraft that would deflect the asteroid by ramming into it, altering the asteroid’s orbit slightly so that it misses Earth. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be the first mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection using a kinetic impactor. 

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  • December 10, 2021
Spanish Astrobiology Center Participates in DART and Hera Planetary Defense Missions
DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

MADRID (Spanish Astrobiology Center) — Currently the Astrobiology Center (CAB, CSIC-INTA) is an integral part of the joint space mission of NASA and ESA called DART-Hera. Its objective consists of sending two spacecraft to a binary asteroid system known as Didymos 65803 and thus validating the impact techniques in order to avoid future collisions with potentially dangerous asteroids for our planet.

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  • November 29, 2021
Planetary Defense: Italy’s LICIACube Flies with DART Toward a Collision with an Asteroid
LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

The journey into deep space of the satellite of the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite has begun.

ROME (ASI PR) — The first planetary defense mission of NASA DART, which carries the LICIACube satellite built by Argotec, in collaboration and with the contribution of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was launched as scheduled on Nov. 24 at 07.21 Italian time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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  • November 28, 2021
Planetary Defenders: After NASA’s DART Comes ESA’s Hera Mission
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is intended to collide with the smaller of two bodies of the Didymos binary asteroid system in autumn 2022. ESA’s Hera mission will then perform follow-up post-impact observations. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The world will be watching the milestone launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, spacecraft on Wednesday, 24 November, intended to alter one small part of the Solar System forever.

DART will collide with the small moon of an asteroid in order to shift its orbit around its parent body – to test the concept of diverting threatening objects away from Earth.

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  • November 24, 2021
NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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  • November 24, 2021
DART on Target – Six Questions with Mission Manager Clayton Kachele
DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

Editor’s Note: DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg on Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST). NASA will stream the launch live on its website. 

By Wayne Smith
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

It sounds like a plot for a movie but protecting Earth from a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid is the objective of an upcoming NASA mission.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for mitigating such a threat. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft launch window opens Nov. 24. It will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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  • November 23, 2021
Testing Mini-radar to Peer Inside an Asteroid
Juventas CubeSat undergoing tests at ESTEC in The Netherlands. (Credit: ESA-P. de Maagt)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A specially upgraded radio-frequency chamber in ESA’s technical heart is testing what is set to become the smallest radar system to be flown in space, hosted aboard a breadbox-sized spacecraft.

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  • November 20, 2021