Tonight: Watch NASA Knock An Asteroid Off Its Path With A Spacecraft
NASA is set to test its defense system to protect Earth should an asteroid set a path to collide with us.
The time has come! NASA is set to test its defense system designed to protect Earth should an asteroid set a path to collide with us. (Insert Armageddon/Bruce Willis joke here.) The test, called DART, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, will help scientists see if their kinetic impact theory works before a space rock impact becomes an actual concern. The test will be live-streamed, so you can watch the whole thing, and we have all the details.
The DART mission will help scientists learn not only about defending the planet from large rocks, but they’re also hoping it will give more insight into asteroids in general.
In layman's terms, the theory behind the mission is to use a rocket to smash into the asteroid, moving the rock out of its trajectory just enough to knock it away from becoming a real threat to Earth.
Now marks the perfect time to test the theory and equipment using the non-threatening asteroid Didymos and the small moonlet Dimorphos, which is close enough for the test to occur but not close enough to actually be a problem for Earthlings. NASA scientists will intentionally smash a rocket into Dimorphos, moving approximately 14,000 miles per hour, hitting the asteroid seven million miles from Earth, to change its orbital speed by about 1%, according to Quartz.
When Will The DART Test Live-Stream Take Place?
Of course, scientists want all conditions to be as optimized as they can be before launching a really expensive object into space. Those conditions have lined up, and the world’s first attempt to redirect an asteroid will take place today, September 26, and it will be viewable live by the public.
According to NASA, the impact will happen at 7:14 pm EST, and a few options exist to view the test. Live coverage of the event will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 6 p.m. EST.
Official live streaming can be viewed on NASA’s YouTube Channel:
Viewers can also stream footage from NASA’s DART Spacecraft:
For more details about the mission, check out NASA's website.