Pre-Impact Thermophysical Properties and the Yarkovsky Effect of NASA DART Target (65803) Didymos

Benjamin Rozitis*, Simon F Green, Samuel L Jackson, Colin Snodgrass, Cyrielle Opitom, Thomas G Muller, Ulrich C Kolb, Steven R. Chesley, R. Terik Daly, Cristina A. Thomas, Andrew S. Rivkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft impacted the secondary body of the binary asteroid (65803) Didymos on 2022 September 26 and altered its orbit about the primary body. Before the DART impact, we performed visible and mid-infrared observations to constrain the pre-impact thermophysical properties of the Didymos system and to model its Yarkovsky effect. Analysis of the photometric phase curve derives a Bond albedo of 0.07 ± 0.01, and a thermophysical analysis of the mid-infrared observations derives a thermal inertia of 320 ± 70 J m −2 K −1 s −1/2 and a thermal roughness of 40° ± 3° rms slope. These properties are compatible with the ranges derived for other S-type near-Earth asteroids. Model-to-measurement comparisons of the Yarkovsky orbital drift for Didymos derives a bulk density of 2750 ± 350 kg m −3, which agrees with other independent measures based on the binary mutual orbit. This bulk density indicates that Didymos is spinning at or near its critical spin-limit at which self-gravity balances equatorial centrifugal forces. Furthermore, comparisons with the post-impact infrared observations presented in Rivkin et al. indicate no change in the thermal inertia of the Didymos system following the DART impact. Finally, orbital temperature simulations indicate that subsurface water ice is stable over geologic timescales in the polar regions if present. These findings will be investigated in more detail by the upcoming ESA Hera mission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalThe Planetary Science Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2024


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