DART’s demise is finally here as NASA’s spacecraft is on a collision course with tiny Dimorphos asteroid. Here’s how to watch this extremely important experiment in deflecting an asteroid.
Abbreviation for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, the DART mission is the first test of kinetic impactor technology as a means of deflecting asteroids that could be heading towards Earth. Although Didymos does no harm to our planet, the epic crash could one day protect our planet from an earth-bound asteroid. Much depends on this astronomical encounter, and so you can follow the action live.
The DART spacecraft is scheduled to impact its target asteroid at 7:14 p.m. ET Monday. NASA will broadcast the event live at the space agency Youtube channelthe NASA appand that of the agency website. Or you can stay right here and tune into the NASA broadcast via the feed below.
Live coverage of the mission begins at 6:00 p.m. ET and will include audio from NASA mission control, live commentary, and images downcast from the spacecraft’s high-resolution onboard camera, DRACO (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation).
Excitingly, NASA is also providing a silent live feed from DRACO, scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. ET The NASA media channel. DRACO will continue to roll until it eventually impacts Dimorphos, relaying one frame per second to ground controllers on Earth. You can also tune in to the DRACO feed via the live stream below.
DART is hurtling towards the asteroid at a speed of 14,000 miles per hour (22,530 kilometers per hour). There may be a slight delay between these images and what’s happening in the control room because it takes about eight seconds for the images to appear on screen after they’re received and processed by mission control, NASA officials told reporters during a press conference on Thursday. Even if mission control declares “impact” or “loss of signal,” it may take a few seconds for that to be reflected in NASA’s coverage. And by “see how it happens,” we assume that will be the case the sudden appearance of a blank screen, which means the destruction of the spacecraft.
DART is NASA’s first planetary defense test mission. Its target is a tiny asteroid called Dimorphos, a mini-moon orbiting a slightly larger asteroid called Didymos. The 1,376-pound DART probe will impact Dimorphos to change orbit around its larger counterpart. The purpose of the test is to experiment with kinetic impactor technology to deflect asteroids that may be heading towards Earth.
NASA is keeping a close eye 28,000 asteroids nearby. While none of these asteroids currently pose a threat to Earth, we need a plan should a massive space rock head towards our planet in the future. Didymos and his tiny companion Dimorphos pose no threat to Earth, and the test will not result in the system threatening our planet. The pair is about 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth.
NASA will use ground-based telescopes to monitor Dimorphos’ orbit after it was struck by the spacecraft, and also to measure the physical effects of the impact itself. At the crime scene, Europe LICIACube will monitor the event with its two onboard cameras LUKE and LEIA. The Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb Space Telescope and a camera on board the Lucy spacecraft will also be there to attempt to monitor the event.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is plan a follow-up mission to the two space rocks; The space agency is to launch theirs Hera mission in 2024, which will meet with Didymos through 2026 to study the impact crater left by DART and any other changes made to the asteroid.
For now, hopefully DART’s POV will provide a stunning view of Dimorphos as he heads straight for the asteroid. It will be a sad ending for the spacecraft, but data from the mission could eventually lead to the tools needed to deflect a rightfully dangerous asteroid.
Additional reporting by George Dvorsky.
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