NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is the US component of AIDA. Planned for launch in late 2020 the fridge-sized spacecraft will fly itself to the Didymos system with a xenon-based electric propulsion system, steering with an onboard camera and sophisticated autonomous navigation software.

DART will reach Didymos in September 2022 and steer itself into Didymoon at a speed of approximately 6.6 km/s. The last thing DART will transmit back to Earth in advance of the collision will a close-up of Didymoon’s surface features, and then nothing.

Potentially DART might also carry a small ‘selfie-sat’ that it deploys beforehand in order to capture imagery of the moment of impact, but past experience of planetary impacts suggests nothing will be directly viewable of the surface after that moment, due to the plume sent up by impact.

Post-impact investigations will be performed initially from Earth and then by the other component of AIDA, ESA’s Hera mission.

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