On September 26 at 11.15 pm UTC, NASA’s DART mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) will be the first to deliberately and measurably change the motion of a significant body in our Solar System.
In other words, it will smash into an asteroid.
The mission will provide the first test of a technique that could be used in the future – to redirect any asteroids we detect on a collision course with Earth.
For decades, scientists around the world have been scanning the sky, searching for potentially hazardous asteroids in the vicinity of Earth. And as astronomers discover near-Earth asteroids in ever greater numbers, attention is now turning toward how we might protect Earth should an asteroid on a collision course be discovered. One technique is brute force, and to test it, DART will collide with the 560-foot-wide (170 m) Dimorphos at 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT) on Sept. 26.
Dimorphos is a member of a binary system with another asteroid, the 2,600-foot-wide (780 m) Didymos, making it the ideal target with which to measure our deflection capabilities. DART’s so-called “kinetic impact” will alter Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos, and because the two rocks are gravitationally bound, there’s no chance that the impact could send Dimorphos accidentally careening across space.
You can view a livestream below: