NASA will intentionally crash a spacecraft into an asteroid at 7:14 p.m. EDT on Monday, September 26, 2022, in an attempt to deflect the asteroid.
Beginning at 6 p.m. EDT, NASA will stream live coverage of DART’s impact with the asteroid.
The DART mission, a NASA acronym for “Double Asteroid Redirection Test”, is designed to demonstrate that an asteroid that could cause regional devastation here on Earth can be deflected by intentionally crashing a spacecraft into it.
This method, called kinetic impact deflection, is just one of several proposed ways to redirect potentially hazardous asteroids being examined by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, but it’s the one currently assessed as the most technologically mature.
The DART spacecraft, which is about the size of a large home refrigerator, will intentionally collide at roughly 4 miles per second (6 kilometers per second) into the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”), which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”).
Nether asteroid poses any threat to Earth.
According to NASA, very few of the billions of asteroids and comets orbiting our Sun are potentially hazardous to Earth, and, for at least the next century, no known asteroid threatens our planet.
The DART mission is a key test that NASA and other U.S. and international space agencies will perform before any actual need is present, better preparing our defenses should we ever discover an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
After impact, the investigation team will measure how much the asteroid is deflected using telescopes on Earth.
Image Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben