How to watch NASA send a spacecraft to intentionally crash into a 525-foot-wide asteroid at 14,000 mph


Update: NASA successfully crashed the spacecraft into the asteroid. Read more about the collision here.

NASA scientists are preparing for the world’s first mission tests the planetary defenses — and they want you to watch tonight.

The Space Agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test or ARROW, will test the technology to defend Earth against future asteroids and comets by purposely crashing into an asteroid — which poses no threat to Earth — at about 14,000 miles per hour. The target, the moon of a larger asteroid called Dimorphos, is about 525 feet across.

The goal of the test is to prove that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a given asteroid and intentionally crash into it, disintegrating upon impact and changing the object’s speed and path. Scientists want to measure this change with telescopes on Earth.

The mission doesn’t quite mirror a sci-fi disaster movie like Armageddon, as it aims to deflect the asteroid rather than destroying it entirely.

NASA plans to live stream the entire event on September 26 and invites the public to tune in on their website, Facebook. Twitter or youtube. At 6 p.m. ET there will be a live briefing from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, which builds and manages the DART spacecraft.

Researchers expect the kinetic impact to occur at 7:14 p.m. ET. The Space Agency is also hosting an in-person event to mark this momentous occasion.

Dimorphos and Didymos to scale with familiar structures on Earth.

Johns Hopkins University/APL

Scientists launched the tiny $330 million probe last fall and sent it on a journey nearly seven million miles from Earth. It carries another small spacecraft called LICIACube, which DART will release 10 days before impact to photograph the collision and resulting debris.

Astronomers currently estimate there are about 25,000 near-Earth asteroids that are 500 feet or larger. DART will hopefully provide important data to help researchers prepare for a future asteroid that could have catastrophic effects on our planet – if they happen to spot one.

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