This year is full of astronomical moments that take our breath away, drown out words and put a smile on our faces. Today, we will witness how a spacecraft hits a small asteroid ( Dimorphos, barely 160 meters in diameter ) with the intention of slightly deviating its orbit. We will get it?
The first attempt to divert a celestial body
We will be able to observe the expected event of the impact of the DART mission on NASA television and on the website of the US space agency , as well as through its social network accounts: both on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube .
Coverage of the first planetary defense test (which will test the historic start of humanity’s first attempt to deflect a celestial object) is expected to begin around 00:00 on Tuesday in Spain.
The road to today
NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission last November, with a binary asteroid system called Didymos in its sights. The system consists of the asteroid Didymos -which measures 780 meters across-, and its smaller brother, a moon called Dimorphos -with a diameter of 160 meters-; the star target of the spaceship.
While neither asteroid poses a threat to Earth, DART’s kinetic impact will demonstrate that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and impact it kinetically.
This date was chosen because it is the time when both asteroids make their closest approach to Earth; they will pass at a distance of approximately 10.8 million kilometers from our planet.
When the DART spacecraft crashes into Dimorphos, it will also have a witness in the form of an Italian cubesat called LICIACube. It is a 14 kilo microsatellite that has traveled attached to the spacecraft and was deployed to be placed in a safe position to observe the collision of the spacecraft and record everything in the course of the event. LICIACube will obtain multiple images and videos of this small but great event.
For the first time in history, we will measurably change the orbit of a celestial body in the universe. Prepared for the impact!