NASA is preparing for an “Armageddon”-style mission that will involve crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid, and they want the public to be able to watch it live.
Asteroids come dangerously close to Earth all the time, but it’s been over 65 million years since a catastrophic one struck. Furthermore, since the success of the 2021 doomsday comedy “Don’t Look Up,” there has been renewed interest in objects hurtling toward us.
Fortunately, NASA will test its plan in the event that it occurs.
Next month, the space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, will collide with the asteroid Dimorphos, which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos. Scientists say neither asteroid is headed for Earth, but Dimorphos, at an estimated 520 feet in length, is an asteroid that could cause significant damage if it collides with Earth, according to NASA.
Regardless of the outcome, the mission will provide astronomers and scientists with “critical data” on how to respond if a dangerous asteroid collides with Earth. According to scientists, there is currently no threat to us.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where an asteroid is heading toward Earth and then have to put this capability to the test. Before we get into a situation like that, we want to know how the spacecraft works as well as how the asteroid will react to the impact “Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, stated in November.
When will DART make contact with the asteroid Dimorphos?
DART’s 10-month journey through space will end on September 26 at 7:14 p.m. ET. NASA will begin live coverage of the event at 6 p.m. ET.
DART will launch a tiny observation spacecraft ten days in advance to capture the collision.
Where can I see the DART mission land?
NASA will broadcast the event live on NASA TV and their website. It is also available on their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
What action will DART take?
The collision will occur approximately 6.8 million miles from Earth. DART, at 15,000 miles per hour, will not destroy Dimorphos, but will “give it a small nudge.” This will have a 1% effect on the asteroids’ orbits, which is enough to divert one away from Earth.
“It’s such an exciting mission,” said Andy Cheng, DART’s lead investigator, in November. “It’s incredible.”