Measurability of the Heliocentric Momentum Enhancement from a Kinetic Impact: The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission

Rahil Makadia, Steven R. Chesley, Davide Farnocchia, Shantanu P. Naidu, Damya Souami, Paolo Tanga, Kleomenis Tsiganis, Masatoshi Hirabayashi, Siegfried Eggl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has demonstrated the capability of successfully conducting kinetic impact-based asteroid deflection missions. The changes in the Didymos-Dimorphos mutual orbit as a result of the DART impact have already been measured. To fully assess the heliocentric outcome of deflection missions, the heliocentric momentum enhancement parameter, β , needs to be determined and disentangled from other nongravitational phenomena such as the Yarkovsky effect. Here we explore the measurability of β resulting from DART, which we estimate simultaneously with nongravitational accelerations using a least-squares filter. Results show that successful stellar occultation measurements of the Didymos system in the second half of 2024 in addition to the ones in the 2022-2023 campaigns can achieve a statistically significant estimate of β , with an uncertainty slightly above 20% for an assumed β = 3. Adding additional occultation measurements and pseudorange measurements from the Hera spacecraft operations at Didymos starting in 2027 decreases this relative uncertainty to under 6%. We find that pre-impact occultation observations combined with post-impact occultations would have yielded substantially higher signal-to-noise ratios on the heliocentric deflection. Additionally, pre-impact occultations would also have enabled a statistically significant β estimate using only one additional occultation in 2023 September. Therefore, we conclude that future asteroid deflection missions would greatly benefit from both pre- and post-deflection occultation measurements to help assess the resulting orbital changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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