ASI; NASA; JPL; AIDA; deep space; planetary defence; orbital analysis; navigation; DART; Didymos (65803); Asteroids; NEA

The NASA-APL Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to change the semi-major axis of an asteroid in space. It is a planetary defence-driven test of one of the technologies for preventing the Earth impact of hazardous asteroids: the kinetic impactor. DART’s primary objective is to demonstrate a kinetic impact on a small asteroid, the binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos. While Didymos’ primary body is approximately 800 meters across, its secondary body (or “moonlet”) has a 150-meter size, which is a typical size of asteroids that could pose a common hazard to Earth.

The Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroid (LICIACube) is the Italian contribution to the mission, coordinated by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). It is a project gathering together Italian scientists, engineers and industrial partners in order to provide a light, versatile cubesat, which will fly together with the main DART S/C and will observe the moonlet after the impact. It will observe the evolution of the plume ejecta after the DART impact, by monitoring the motion of the slow ejecta and exploring the plume density structure, will obtain colour imaging of the impact crater on the nucleus, and will observe the non-impact hemisphere of the moonlet.

About this project


Marco Zannoni

LICIACube contract responsible