NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART): Mutual Orbital Period Change Due to Reshaping in the Near-Earth Binary Asteroid System (65803) Didymos

Nakano, Ryota; Hirabayashi, Masatoshi; Agrusa, Harrison F.; Ferrari, Fabio; Meyer, Alex J.; Michel, Patrick; Raducan, Sabina D.; Sánchez, Paul; Zhang, Yun (2022). NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART): Mutual Orbital Period Change Due to Reshaping in the Near-Earth Binary Asteroid System (65803) Didymos. The planetary science journal, 3(7), p. 148. IOP Publishing 10.3847/psj/ac7566

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The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is the first planetary defense mission to demonstrate the kinetic deflection technique. The DART spacecraft will collide with the asteroid Dimorphos, the smaller component of the binary asteroid system (65803) Didymos. The DART impact will excavate surface/subsurface materials of Dimorphos, leading to the formation of a crater and/or some magnitude of reshaping (i.e., shape change without significant mass loss). The ejecta may eventually hit Didymos’s surface. If the kinetic energy delivered to the surface is high enough, reshaping may also occur in Didymos, given its near-critical spin rate. Reshaping on either body will modify the mutual gravitational field, leading to a reshaping-induced orbital period change, in addition to the impact-induced orbital period change. If left unaccounted for, this could lead to an erroneous interpretation of the effect of the kinetic deflection technique. Here we report the results of full two-body problem simulations that explore how reshaping influences the mutual dynamics. In general, we find that the orbital period becomes shorter linearly with increasing reshaping magnitude. If Didymos’s shortest axis shrinks by ∼0.7 m, or Dimorphos’s intermediate axis shrinks by ∼2 m, the orbital period change would be comparable to the Earth-based observation accuracy, ∼7.3 s. Constraining the reshaping magnitude will decouple the reshaping- and impact-induced orbital period changes; Didymos’s reshaping may be constrained by observing its spin period change, while Dimorphos’s reshaping will likely be difficult to constrain but will be investigated by the ESAʼs Hera mission that will visit Didymos in late 2026.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Ferrari, Fabio, Raducan, Sabina-Denisa


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




IOP Publishing




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2023 16:31

Last Modified:

19 Mar 2023 02:15

Publisher DOI:





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