Watching a spaceship crash into an asteroid might be the stuff of sci-fi movies, but this week you have a chance to see it live.
On Monday, Nasa will intentionally crash a spacecraft into a small asteroid as part of a test mission to protect the planet.
While this asteroid, named Dimorphos, poses no threat to Earth, the goal of the mission is to demonstrate that dangerous oncoming rocks can be deflected by intentionally smashing them.
The spacecraft known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) is expected to collide with the 170 meter wide (560 foot) asteroid at 00:14 UK time on September 27.
Dimorphos is part of a binary asteroid system and orbits Didymos lasting about 11 hours and 55 minutes.
NASA astronomers hope that while Dart destroys itself in the process, it will shorten that orbital period by about 10 minutes.
Launched in November 2021, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will reach Dimorphos on Monday, September 26, and the entire event will be streamed online.
When DART impacts Dimorphos about 6.8 million miles from Earth, telescopes here on the ground will analyze the asteroid’s orbit to see if it has changed in any way.
Nasa said: “Dart’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth, but it is the perfect testing ground to see if this method of asteroid deflection — known as the kinetic impactor technique — would be a viable way to protect our planet if an asteroid collided with it.” of the earth were discovered in the future.’
DART is equipped with an instrument called Didymo’s Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) that guides DART to its final destination and also provides a real-time feed from the spacecraft by sending one frame per second back to Earth.
In the hours leading up to impact, the screen appears mostly black save for a single point of light marking the position of the binary asteroid system the spacecraft is heading for.
But as the moment of impact approaches, the point of light gets larger and eventually detailed asteroids become visible.
The DART spacecraft is scheduled to impact the asteroid Dimorphos on Monday 26 September at 12:14pm BST.
Nasa is offering two feeds of the event for you to tune into. The first provides the most up-to-date DRACO camera feed and starts at 23:00 BST.
The second feed offers similar coverage and starts half an hour earlier at 10:30pm in the UK on Friday.
Nasa said that after the impact, the feed turns black due to a loss signal. Then, after about two minutes, the stream shows a replay showing the final moments before impact.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/09/23/how-to-watch-nasa-smash-a-spacecraft-into-an-asteroid-on-monday-17437524/ Watching Nasa smash a spacecraft into an asteroid on Monday