Heliocentric Effects of the DART Mission on the (65803) Didymos Binary Asteroid System

Rahil Makadia, Sabina D. Raducan, Eugene G. Fahnestock, Siegfried Eggl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) is NASA’s first kinetic impact–based asteroid deflection mission. The DART spacecraft will act as a projectile during a hypervelocity impact on Dimorphos, the secondary asteroid in the (65803) Didymos binary system, and alter its mutual orbital period. The initial momentum transfer between the DART spacecraft and Dimorphos is enhanced by the ejecta flung off the surface of Dimorphos. This exchange is characterized within the system by the momentum enhancement parameter, β, and on a heliocentric level by its counterpart, βe. The relationship between β and the physical characteristics of Dimorphos is discussed here. A nominal set of Dimorphos physical parameters from the design reference asteroid and impact circumstances from the design reference mission are used to initialize the ejecta particles for dynamical propagation. The results of this propagation are translated into a gradual momentum transfer onto the Didymos system barycenter. A high-quality solar system propagator is then used to produce precise estimates of the post-DART encounters between Didymos and Earth by generating updated close approach maps. Results show that even for an unexpectedly high βe, a collision between the Didymos system and Earth is practically excluded in the foreseeable future. A small but significant difference is found in modeling the overall momentum transfer when individual ejecta particles escape the Didymos system, as opposed to imparting the ejecta momentum as a single impulse at impact. This difference has implications for future asteroid deflection campaigns, especially when it is necessary to steer asteroids away from gravitational keyholes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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