NASA’s DART Spacecraft To Crash Into Asteroid

10th Sep 2022
NASA’s DART Spacecraft To Crash Into Asteroid

Later this month, NASA will deliberately crash their Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) robot spacecraft into an asteroid known as Dimorphos. The half-tonne probe will be moving at more than four miles per second when it hits its target. The impact will destroy the $330 million spacecraft.

A kamikaze science mission with a simple objective

The reason why NASA is carrying out this space mission is to determine how asteroids deflect should one ever be on a collision course with Earth.

By observing how the spacecraft impacts the asteroid’s orbit, space engineers can extract critical data about how effectively spacecraft can protect the Earth from an asteroid in the future.

Queen’s University Belfast astronomer Professor Alan Fitzsimmons explained the purpose of the mission in further detail:

“We know asteroids have hit us in the past. These impacts are a natural process, and they are going to happen in the future. We would like to stop the worst of them.

“The problem is that we have never tested the technology which will be needed to do that. That is the purpose of Dart.”

You can watch NASA’s DART mission live

The DART spacecraft should collide with Dimorphos between 26th September and 1st October. You can do so via NASA’s YouTube channel or the official NASA website.

NASA will be broadcasting live coverage from 11 pm EST on Monday, September 26. However, the precise timing of the collision is not clear yet. 

Rather than a video feed of the impact, we expect there will be live commentary from experts at NASA on whether or not the mission was a successful one. This is because Dimorphos will be too far from Earth to broadcast at the time of the collision (about 6.8 million miles).

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