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Asteroid Day: TRAD committed to DART mission

DART mission. Credit: TRAD

Ibadan, 30 June 2023. – As today, June 30, is International Asteroid Day, Test and Radiation (TRAD) is taking the opportunity to look back at its contribution to the DART mission. DART, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test, was a C-class mission of NASA. It was the first mission dedicated to studying and demonstrating an asteroid deflection method. Furthermore, the mission’s objective was to evaluate the use of a spacecraft’s kinetic impact to modify the asteroid’s trajectory so that it avoids the Earth.

On September 26, 2022, DART collided with the lunar asteroid Dimorphos, a small body measuring 160 meters in diameter, which was orbiting a larger asteroid measuring 780 meters: Didymos. The impact with Dimorphos was particularly crucial as it is similar in size to the near-Earth objects that are potentially dangerous for the planet.

TRAD’s FASTRAD software, which it designed for radiation shielding modeling and analysis, was instrumental in the development of the DART mission. It helped to compare flight data and analyze shielding thicknesses in post-processing through its 3D modeling and its Ray Tracing function to study realistic comparisons.

Furthermore, the software enabled the accurate identification of the various sources of uncertainty associated with armor assumptions. This is because overly conservative assumptions can lead to costly oversizing both in terms of mass and budget. Furthermore, it can also have an impact on calculations of the occurrence of singular (and potentially destructive) events.

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