A giant asteroid may have caused the extinction of dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. And there’s a great chance of similar level of extinction event happening once again. We are just not sure of its ifs and when. In the odd case of such asteroid approaching the Earth, what if we are not prepared? Well, to be honest and precise, we are not, but we are preparing for it. NASA is working on testing the world’s first planetary defense system and test is going to happen soon.
NASA’s DART or Double Asteroid Redirection System spacecraft is going to impact Dimorphos, the target asteroid on Monday, 26th September 2022 at around 7:14 p.m. EDT. NASA will live stream this event and everyone can watch the event as it occurs.
About the DART Mission for Planetary Defense
The DART spacecraft was built and is managed by NASA at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. The spacecraft will need to travel around 6.8 million miles from home before it hits the target asteroid with a speed of 15,000 miles/hour (24,000 km/h).
On board the DART satellite is a miniature satellite equipped with cameras. This satellite will launch from the main craft 10 days before the impact and begin orbiting the asteroid to to collect collision data and pictures. On this planetary defense mission, the 548 kg DART will not cause much damage to the asteroid. However, the impact is supposed to change the trajectory of the asteroid, setting it off-course.
The DART spacecraft took off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base, California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 24th November, 2021.
Is Dimorphos heading towards Earth?
The target asteroid Dimorphos is a part of a binary asteroid system. Didymos is the main asteroid and Dimorphos is its moonlet.
In 1996 this asteroid system was first discovered. In 2003, it was around 4.5 million miles from Earth. As this asteroid system poses no threat to Earth and passes by our planet in every few years, it was chosen as a feasible target for the DART mission.
Where to watch DART impact event in September, 2022?
You can watch the DART impact live on NASA’s YouTube channel. The planetary defence system live telecast will be streamed on NASA TV, a 24 hour Live TV by NASA. You can also access the Live TV from here:
The impact happens at 7:14 p.m EDT, so stay tuned. The DART impact live footage will be followed by NASA’s statement if the planetary defense system was able to make a significant impact. Although earth-based equipment will measure the primary observations from the impact, data from the miniature satellite will follow soon during the event.
Although a small nudge is enough to change the path of an asteroid, this impact is going to be rather significant at a speed of 15,000 miles/hour and would definitely render positive results. We are just a few days, or I’d rather say, a moment away (in cosmic scale) from witnessing this spectacle.