NASA’s DART: How to Live Watch a Spacecraft Crash into an Asteroid

NASA’s DART spacecraft won’t be long in this world, and it’s going to go out with a bang. After launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on November 24, 2021, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test Probe has its sights set firmly on asteroid Didymos and its tiny companion rock, Dimorphos. On Monday, September 26, DART will enter Dimorphos at about 14,000 miles per hour. You can watch it live and we have all the details here.

First, we must reiterate that there is no need to be alarmed. This pair of asteroids poses no threat to Earth. The mission is designed as a planetary defense test intended to prove that a deep space collision they can alter the orbit of a space rock. The carefully staged death dive will destroy the DART and, if all goes according to plan, will very slightly alter Dimorphos’s orbit around his father Didymos.

In recent weeks, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory team have been assessing the asteroid pair from a distance, making sure we have a firm grasp on the orbits of asteroids. Once DART has been destroyed, ground-based space telescopes will assess Didymos and Dimorphos to see how much the orbit has changed.

The $308 million spacecraft’s only instrument is the Didymos Asteroid and Reconnaissance Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) and it will power up for the final dive, taking a picture every second. Another small satellite, which escaped from DART on the way to its target, will also be watching.

About three minutes after the collision, the shoebox-sized cube (known as the Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging Asteroids) will take high-resolution photos of the crash site and the damage done to the 525-foot asteroid. Another mission, scheduled to launch in 2024, will also rendezvous with Didymos sometime in 2026.

But that’s for later, for now, here’s how you can see the demise of DART.

How to watch NASA’s DART coverage

NASA’s DART death is seen in primetime on Monday, occurring just hours before the big Monday Night Football game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

The spaceship will collide with Dimorphos in 4:14 p.m. PT/7:14 p.m. ET on Monday, September 26. Live coverage is scheduled to begin at 3 pm PT/6 pm ET on NASA TV.

Our YouTube channel, CNET Highlights, will have two streams. The main live feed and a feed from the spacecraft’s DRACO camera. NASA notes that the feed will be mostly black once it’s turned on, but as the spacecraft gets closer, the asteroid pair will come into view. It should be pretty exciting.

Here’s how that time translates into different zones:

  • USA: September 26, 4:14 p.m. PT/7:14 p.m. ET
  • Brazil: September 26, 20:14 (Federal District)
  • United Kingdom: September 26, 23:14
  • South Africa: September 27, 1:14 am
  • Russia: September 27, 2:14 am (Moscow)
  • United Arab Emirates: September 27, 3:14 am
  • India: September 27, 4:44 a.m.
  • China: September 27, 7:14 a.m.
  • Japan: September 27, 8:14 a.m.
  • Australia: September 27, 9:14 a.m. AEST

Sounds awesome. Where can I get more information about DART?

We’re glad you asked.

When DART launched in November 2021, CNET’s Monisha Ravisetti put together this handy explainer about the mission and its objectives. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory team also has a wealth of resources on the mission, including interactive hands-on tutorials and the latest updates.

Be sure to check back here for live stream links closer to launch and check back. CNET Science for more space stories.

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