Asteroid Impact: An Update on the DART mission

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
Applied Physics Laboratory and JH Alumni Association

Asteroids have – and will continue to – cross Earth’s path. It’s not a question of if, but when. Just ask the dinosaurs. Learn more about how NASA and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab’s changed the orbit of an asteroid through the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). 

In 2022, for the first time in history, humans changed the orbit of an asteroid through NASA and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab’s (APL) Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). Proving this capability has clear benefits in ensuring humanity could deflect a potential threatening asteroid in the future. This innovation also speaks to how far humanity has advanced in its ability to adapt the natural environment to its purposes and how important the space program can be to all of us on the Earth. 

With funding from NASA, DART built on several APL-developed innovations, including adaptive target identification, feature recognition, and tracking algorithms originally used in the air and missile defense domain, autonomous deep space operations, and precision navigation. 

This historic achievement captivated, inspired and brought people together around the world. Post-flight analysis indicated an orbital change about 25x greater than required for observation from Earth. Should a similar sized asteroid with similar energy be identified to be on an Earth-impact trajectory, this same deflection applied approximately 10 years prior to Earth encounter would be sufficient to avoid regional-scale devastation on the Earth. 

This Hopkins at Home program will be broadcast live from Homewood campus as a part of Alumni Weekend activities. To attend the event in person, please register for Johns Hopkins Alumni Weekend at

ABOUT Dr. Elena Adams
Program Manager and DART Mission Systems Engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Elena Adams is the Mission Systems and the Spacecraft Systems Engineer for the Double Asteroid Redirect Mission (DART), which is scheduled for impact on September 26, 2022, and a member of APL’s Principal Professional Staff. As a postdoctoral researcher, she worked on the Microwave Radiometer (MWR) instrument for NASA’s Juno mission. Since coming to APL, Dr. Adams has served as an instrument systems engineer for the Van Allen Probes, an instrument scientist for the ExoMars Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument, the Deputy Project Systems Engineer for the Europa Clipper mission, and the Payload Systems Engineer for the Parker Solar Probe mission. She has worked with NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office on a survey study of near-Earth objects and with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the future of space-based architectures. She was a Principal Investigator for multiple new technology grants from NASA, including projects to develop a low-gravity hopper for asteroids (the Planetary Object Geophysical Observer, or POGO) and a sampling system for Enceladus plumes (the Enceladus Funnel, or EFun). Dr. Adams serves on the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group steering committee as a technology lead and is a member of Standing Review Board for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM). She has a B.S. in applied mathematics from the University of Virginia and an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences and an M.E. in space systems from the University of Michigan.

ABOUT Dr. Kevin Lewis
Associate Professor, Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Kevin Lewis researches problems in planetary geophysics, from the scale of a grain of sand all the way up to the crust of a planet. He has worked in depth on the nature of sedimentary rocks of Mars, and what they might record about that planet's past climate and habitability.  He is also interested in understanding the large-scale properties of planetary lithospheres using magnetic, gravity, and topography data sets.  

 Event Date
Friday, April 14, 2023
Start Time: 11:15am EDT
End Time: 12:15pm EDT

Online webcast

Hopkins at Home

Office of Alumni Relations - Lifelong Learning
Joe Letourneau
Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Registration Information

Ticket Type

Make a Gift


Payment Information