NASA is about to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid 7 million miles from Earth, and really, who doesn’t want to see that?
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, will bring asteroid Didymos’ small moon to Earth on Monday in the first test of the planet’s asteroid defense system. If all goes well, the spacecraft’s motion (traveling at more than 14,000 mph) will knock out the 560-foot-wide Dimorphos moon, almost like shooting a game of pool. It is the first large-scale test of a defense system that could one day avert disasters by deflecting asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
NASA’s live coverage begins Monday at 6pm Eastern Social-media accounts And a YouTube page. Impact is expected at 7:14 p.m. Eastern, with a Port-of-Corpse media briefing expected at 8 p.m.
The spacecraft will send images up to the impact site. The LICIACube satellite will take pictures of the impact and debris and transmit them back to Earth, which will take two days.
And don’t worry, even if the test fails, the asteroid is far enough away from Earth that it’s in no danger of hitting us.
The DART mission was launched in November 2021. The spacecraft’s final instructions from scientists came Sunday, after which it will “autonomously guide itself toward a collision with the asteroid’s moon,” according to NASA.