On Monday, the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, also known as DART, is supposed to collide with Dimorphous, according to The New York Times. That asteroid is reportedly orbiting around a large space rock called Didymos.
It’ll be the end of DART’s journey, which started all the way back on November 24, 2021.
The two rocks may be minding their own goddamn business, but NASA still wants to fuck with ‘em. Last year, NASA launched DART on its crash course with Dimorphous to test a technique that the agency could use one day as a method of planetary defense.
Okay, that’s all well and good, but how do we watch this space demolition derby? Well, don’t worry my friend. NASA is going to broadcast it. The Times reports NASA Television will be broadcasting coverage of the mission beginning at 6 p.m. EST on Monday evening. It’ll feature mission control audio, and live commentary. DART is supposed to smack into the asteroid at 7:14 p.m… while traveling at 14,000 mph. Badass. NASA’s media channel will also be broadcasting a live stream of photos from DART as it closes in on the asteroid beginning at 5:30 p.m.
If all goes to plan, Dimorphos’s orbit will get closer to the space rock it is circling around. As for what’ll happen to the state of Dimorphos, that all depends on what it’s made up of. If it’s a pile of rubble held together by gravity, The Times says the crash will most likely send a shower of debris flying into space. Neat!
So, if you’ve always wanted to see a giant asteroid be nudged off target by NASA crashing a spacecraft into it to prove a concept that could one day save the world, now is your chance. I’ll certainly be watching, because it’s a lot like playing Burnout but on a very big and expensive scale.