Hollywood has long theorized that the way to stop an asteroid from crashing into Earth is to send a missile into space to destroy it. Well, that or send in a team of oil drillers that includes Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi and Michael Clark Duncan. Now NASA is testing the theory (the missile one, not the oil drillers one).
On Monday, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will see if we can fend off asteroids or comets that are on a high-speed trajectory toward Earth. The 19-meter spacecraft will deliberately crash into Dimorphos, which is about twice the height of the Empire State Building and 525 feet wide. It currently revolves around a larger asteroid called Didymos.
The goal, scientists say, is not to blow up the asteroid, but to change its speed and trajectory (which will be measured by telescopes on Earth). DART launched in November 2021. Impact with Dimorphs is expected to take place on Monday, September 26 at 7:14 p.m. ET.
Better yet: we’ll be able to see this test crash dummy in outer space. On September 16, DART launched a smaller spacecraft carrying it, called LICIACube. That ship will film the collision and debris.
It may sound a bit silly to some, but NASA notes that there are approximately 25,000 large asteroids (500 feet or more) that are close to Earth. And they want to have a contingency plan in place, in case one of them ends up on a collision course, so that we don’t go the way of the dinosaurs. China is working on a similar program.
Do you want to see DART take on an interstellar intruder? That is how.
When will DART hit the asteroid?
The spacecraft will impact the asteroid Dimorphos on Monday, September 26. NASA expects the impact to take place at 7:14 pm ET, but coverage will begin at 5:30 pm ET.
Where can I see the crash of the rocket against the asteroid?
NASA is doing blanket coverage across all of its properties, including NASA TV. If your cable/satellite provider does not offer that channel, you can watch it at:
Does this asteroid pose any threat to earth today?
No NASA was cleared in August that the asteroid they are testing DART on does not pose a threat to Earth.
When will we know if crashing a rocket into an asteroid had any effect?
At 8:00 pm ET on Monday, NASA will hold a post-impact press conference, where officials will discuss the mission.
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