NASA will livestream the first attempt to redirect an asteroid
The idea that a large space giant asteroid could collide with Earth and cause a whole host of catastrophic problems for humans – like instant death – sounds like a cinematic plot. (And it’s literally a – Armageddon, anyone?) And while we’ve seen how fictional scientists would predict and then convince governing bodies to do something on the big screen (exercise, baby, exercise!), an Earthbound asteroid is a real source of worry in real life and don’t need to include a “hotshot” team of people drilling a hole in an asteroid and placing a nuke in it.
In fact, protecting Earth from space rocks is something that real scientists are working on at NASA, not nuclear included. They are preparing to test their defense system – and you can watch.
What is NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)?
According to NASA, DART, or Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is “the first-ever mission dedicated to studying and demonstrating a method of deflecting an asteroid by altering the motion of an asteroid through space by impact kinetic”. Simply put, DART is a mission created to test the idea of shooting a space rock and hitting it hard enough to knock it off course towards Earth.
If there was an asteroid on a path to hit Earth, NASA’s plan isn’t to destroy it – which, yes, is the plot of the movie Armageddon – but to redirect its path so that it does not crash into our planet. DART is not the name of the defense system, but it is the name NASA has given to the mission that will test if their kinetic impact plan is working.
When will NASA’s test launch its DART mission?
Conditions have lined up in space that will allow NASA to test an asteroid’s redirect plan should the need arise. An asteroid called Didymos B was classified as “both a potentially hazardous asteroid and a near-Earth object” upon its discovery. Fortunately, this is not immediately dangerous.
Didymos B’s proximity to Earth makes it the perfect test asteroid to see if NASA’s plan to knock an asteroid out of its path will work. “This test will show if we are ready to deal with threatening asteroids that may be heading our way,” EarthSky Explain.
The Didymos B impact and displacement mission will take place on September 26, 2022 at 7:14 PM EST, so mark your calendars.
How to watch the first DART attempt
As it will be the first attempt in the world, and because it is really cool, the DART mission will be visible live to the public. Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EST on September 26 and will be streamed on NASA’s website, but will also be viewed on YouTube, Twitterand Facebook.
For more details on the mission, check the NASA website.