NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Impact

On Monday, 2022-09-26 at 23:14 UTC, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test Impact (DART) spacecraft is planned to deliberately collide with the small (160 metre) moon which orbits near-Earth asteroid 65803 Didymos. The asteroidal moon, discovered in 2003, has been given the name Dimorphos, but it doesn’t care if you call it “Didymoon”. The 500 kg DART spacecraft will impact Dimorphos at a velocity of 6.6 kilometres per second, and is expected to reduce the orbital velocity of the moon by a tiny amount which will not be directly observable but which can be inferred with great precision over time by measuring the time of mutual eclipses of the asteroid and moon. This will allow assessing the feasibility of using kinetic impactors to divert asteroids discovered to be on a collision course with Earth.

The DART spacecraft will transmit images of the target every second until impact. Fifteen days before impact, the main DART spacecraft bus released a CubeSat called LICIACube built by the Italian Space Agency which will attempt to image the impact and ejecta from it. The impact will be observed by telescopes on several continents on Earth, the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, and the Lucy spacecraft now en route to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.

On 2022-09-23, the project scientists, engineers, and managers of DART held a press briefing on the upcoming impact, recorded in the video. (Note: the official NASA Webcast of the briefing cut off the first and part of the second presenter’s talk. I don’t know why.) The impact will be covered as it happens on NASA TV—I will include a live stream player in the comments when it is announced.

We previously discussed DART here on 2021-11-19 in a post “Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART)” and covered the launch of the spacecraft on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Space Force Base on 2021-11-24 in “Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) Launch”.

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This is the live stream which will cover the DART impact on 2022-09-26. The live stream is scheduled to begin on 2022-09-26 at 22:00 UTC.

The following live stream will show a direct feed from the DRACO camera on the DART spacecraft as it approaches and steers toward its impact with Dimorphos. NASA describes it as:

… a real-time feed from the DART spacecraft enabled through the DRACO [Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation] camera sending one image per second to Earth. In the hours before impact, the screen will appear mostly black, with a single point of light. That point is the binary asteroid system Didymos which is made up of a larger asteroid named Didymos and a smaller asteroid that orbits around it called Dimorphos. As the 7:14 p.m. EDT (23:14 UTC) impact of asteroid Dimorphos nears closer, the point of light will get bigger and eventually detailed asteroids will be visible.

After impact, the feed will turn black – due to a loss of signal. After about 2 minutes, this stream will turn into a replay – showing the final moments leading up to impact.

The direct camera feed is scheduled to start at 21:30 UTC on 2022-09-26.

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