DART: A NASA Mission to the Binary Asteroid System
DART: a NASA orbiter mission launching in 2021 towards the binary asteroid system; Didymos to be the first spacecraft ever to visit a binary asteroid system. The mission’s main objective is to crash itself with a speed of 6.6 km/s (14.7 mph) into the small body in the system using the “kinetic impactor technique”, which will mark another first for the mission. The impact’s purpose is to slightly change the orbit of the asteroid in an attempt to use this technique in the future to protect Earth from possible asteroid impacts.
DART will navigate around the asteroid system autonomously using a smart navigation system developed only for it. The orbiter is equipped with two Roll-Out Solar Arrays (ROSA), each is 8.6 meters (27.9 feet) long, and propelled by an ion solar-powered propulsion system. DART will also be used as a demonstrator for a new technology called “Transformational Solar Arrays,” which should provide higher solar panels efficiency.