Do you have any plans for tonight? You are not so lucky, because NASA can deliberately crash the probe into the asteroid Dimorphos in just a few hours when it is conducting the Double Star Redirection Test (DART), which is the first time that humans deliberately try to knock space rocks out of orbit. If it works, we are one step closer to establishing a viable planetary defense system in case we find asteroids in the process of collision with the Earth. If it doesn’t work. Well, we still have time to come up with another plan.
It needs to be clear that the 170 meter (560 foot) wide Dimorphos will not pose any threat to us, nor will it pose any threat to us after NASA impacts it with an ion propelled spacecraft. This is just a test to see if a small spacecraft can significantly change its orbit by impacting the asteroid head-on to slow it down. We won’t know whether the crash was successful for about a week, but it should still be interesting to watch the crash on site.
We embed two NASA data streams below. The first group will start about half an hour before the impact. When DART spacecraft aims at the target, it will display the real-time navigation image of Dimorphos, and the second group will cover the main events. Please remember, this is not the Hollywood movie we are talking about. Don’t expect any dramatic explosion at zero o’clock. When telemetry stops returning, it means it is a bull’s-eye.