Sabina D. Raducan is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Sabina graduated with a PhD from Imperial College London (UK) and her job is mainly centred around creating numerical simulations of impacts into asteroids. Sabina has been part of the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Program (DART) investigation team that examines the use of an impactor spacecraft for planetary defence against potential threats posed by Earth-crossing asteroids. She is also part of the ESA Hera mission, which will rendezvous with asteroid Didymos in 2026. Her work will be essential in developing planetary defence strategies against asteroidal threats.
Planetary science: The DART mission
After a 10-months journey in space, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft successfully impacted asteroid Dimorphos (~160 m in diameter), the secondary of the Didymos system, at more than 6 km/s. The impact, which took place on September 26, 2022 changed the orbit of Dimorphos around its primary by more than 30 minutes. The impact aftermath effects have been observed from both Earth and space based telescopes, as well as other spacecrafts (e.g., NASA’s Lucy mission). This experiment represents an important step towards developing effective asteroid deflection strategies to safeguard our planet.
We use high-fidelity numerical simulations of the impact to compare with the impact outcome and determine the asteroid properties.