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Smarter Navigation on NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be the first-ever mission to test a way to protect Earth from an asteroid strike. But to ensure DART hits its harmless test target, scientists and engineers at APL developed a guidance system unlike anything used on spacecraft before — a system that can direct a spacecraft entirely on its own without any human intervention.

SMART Nav is a set of computational algorithms on DART that, with the rest of the spacecraft's guidance and navigation system, will independently find the moonlet asteroid Dimorphos and guide the spacecraft into it. Scientists knew from the outset of DART's development that the mission would need an autonomous component, but it had to be very different — something that was free to self-inform and make decisions on its own.

Learn more about SMART Nav, the new technology that will help make DART's kinetic impact with Dimorphos possible, in this interactive scrolling story.