Watch NASA crash DART into an asteroid at 6PM ET

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft is about to crash into the asteroid Dimorphos, and you have many options to follow along. The space agency will be live streaming the DART collision starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and you can watch either a full presentation or a special stream from the spacecraft’s Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO) instrument. This last feed shows one frame per second up to the moment of impact. The vehicle is expected to impact Dimorphos at around 7:14 p.m., although its distance from Earth will delay the image you see.

They are also not tied to official sources. The Virtual Telescope Project will host its own stream starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. It is working with two South African observatories to provide a ground-based view of the collision. The Didymos asteroid system (with Dimorphos being a small moon) will only be a dot, but you should see it flare up after DART makes contact.

DART will examine the feasibility of using spacecraft to deflect asteroids, comets and other objects that might otherwise impact Earth. If all goes well, it will show NASA can deploy autonomous vehicles as defense systems and confirm the results with ground telescopes. Dimorphos is an ideal candidate for both its relative proximity and lack of threats – NASA won’t inadvertently create the very calamity it’s trying to avoid.

This won’t be the only mission leading to the Didymos system either. The European Space Agency expects its Hera mission to reach Didymos by 2026 when it will study the effects of DART on Dimorphos. If there are any questions left after tonight’s one-way flight, they should be answered within a few years.

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Russell Falcon

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