Asteroid-crashing mission ready for impact
September 26, 2022 - NASA’s DART spacecraft is about to smash into a small moonlet orbiting an asteroid, in the first test of a technique that could one day be used to deflect a dangerous space rock heading for Earth.
The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft, launched last year, will smash into the moonlet Dimorphos to try to change its orbit around its parent body, the asteroid Didymos.
The 500-kilogram spacecraft, about the size of a golf cart, will deliberately crash itself into the moonlet at a velocity of 6.6km/s.
It's the first attempt to deflect an asteroid for the purpose of learning how to protect Earth, though this particular asteroid presents no threat, the BBC reports.
NASA’s live broadcast will feature images from DART’s DRACO camera, which is the only scientific instrument the spacecraft is carrying. The images will flow back to Earth at a rate of one per second, and we'll see them in real time via NASA Television, Space.com says.
Meanwhile, a tiny satellite called LICIACube that launched with DART will be taking images of its own, safely away from the site of the impact. That footage should beam back to Earth in the following days.