NASA’s asteroid impact mission is set to launch, and you can watch the event live as well as several science briefings.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 1:20 a.m. EST (0620 GMT) on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
In late September or early October of 2022, the 1,210-pound (550 kilograms) DART spacecraft will slam itself into an asteroid called Dimorphos. Scientists will be watching eagerly, measuring how much the impact speeds up the space rock’s orbit around its larger companion, Didymos — the first real data about what it might really require to steer a threatening asteroid out of Earth’s path.
It’s just one rock, just a small change. Just to reduce the odds that we humans go the way of the dinosaurs. But DART’s impact will also mark a new relationship between humans and the solar system we live in, a milestone perhaps worth contemplating. A follow-up mission called Hera (by the European Space Agency) should visit the same system in 2026.
NASA has several activities planned for the public to participate in before and during the mission. Public members can register to virtually attend the launch and gain access to resources, videos, and a virtual guest launch passport stamp.
The agency will host a virtual NASA Social on Facebook where you can interact with NASA and DART team members while watching the launch. You can also participate in a brief Planetary Defenders campaign, answering questions to earn a “planetary defender” certificate.
Additionally, you can follow the mission on social media using the hashtag #DARTMission. On Twitter, go to @NASA, @AsteroidWatch, @NASASocial and @NASA_LSP. On Facebook, go to NASA’s page here and NASA LSP. On Instagram, go to NASA’s page here.
NASA also has a series of live briefings that the public can watch and ask questions about on social media. The briefings, their participants, and public engagement opportunities are listed below. Find more about the mission and the DART spacecraft in the video at the end of the article.
MON., NOV. 22: DART ASTEROID MISSION PRE-LAUNCH BRIEFING
7 p.m. EST (1200 GMT Tuesday, Nov. 23) – DART prelaunch news conference on NASA TV with the following participants. The public may ask questions on social media using #AskNASA.
- Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
- Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, NASA Headquarters
- Ed Reynolds, DART project manager, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
- Omar Baez, senior launch director, Launch Services Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
- Julianna Scheiman, director for civil satellite missions, SpaceX
- Capt. Maximillian Rush, weather officer, Space Launch Delta 30, Vandenberg Space Force Base
TUES., NOV. 23: DART ASTEROID MISSION SCIENCE LIVE
4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) – NASA Science Live, with the following participants. This event will stream live on the agency’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels. Members of the public can participate live by submitting questions in the comment section of the streams, or by using #AskNASA.
- Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters
- Nancy Chabot, DART coordination lead, John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
- Joshua Ramirez Rodriguez, telecommunications subsystem integration and test lead engineer, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
WED., NOV. 24: DART ASTEROID MISSION LAUNCH DAY
12:30 a.m. EST (0530 GMT) – NASA TV’s live launch coverage begins.
1:20 a.m. EST (10:20 p.m. PST on Nov. 23/0620 GMT) – Liftoff of the DART asteroid mission.