Effects of impact and target parameters on the results of a kinetic impactor: predictions for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission

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The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will impact into the asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, 2022 as a test of the kinetic impactor technique for planetary defense. The efficiency of the deflection following a kinetic impactor can be represented using the momentum enhancement factor, Beta, which is dependent on factors such as impact geometry and the specific target material properties. Currently, very little is known about Dimorphos and its material properties that introduces uncertainty in the results of the deflection efficiency observables, including crater formation, ejecta distribution, and Beta. The DART Impact Modeling Working Group (IWG) is responsible for using impact simulations to better understand the results of the DART impact. Pre-impact simulation studies also provide considerable insight into how different properties and impact scenarios affect momentum enhancement following a kinetic impact. This insight provides a basis for predicting the effects of the DART impact and the first understanding of how to interpret results following the encounter. Following the DART impact, the knowledge gained from these studies will inform the initial simulations that will recreate the impact conditions, including providing estimates for potential material properties of Dimorphos and Beta resulting from DARTs impact. This paper summarizes, at a high level, what has been learned from the IWG simulations and experiments in preparation for the DART impact. While unknown, estimates for reasonable potential material properties of Dimorphos provide predictions for Beta of 1-5, depending on end-member cases in the strength regime.
Impact phenomena, Asteroids, Planetary science
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Stickle, A. M., et al. (2022). Effects of Impact and Target Parameters on the Results of a Kinetic Impactor: Predictions for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission. The Planetary Science Journal, 3(11), 248.