How to watch NASA's DART mission through telescopes online?
NASA will open a new chapter in planetary defense on Monday at 7:14 pm EDT (4:44 am IST, Tuesday). The space agency will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid as part of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. NASA's live broadcast will stop when the probe strikes the asteroid. But we have a solution for those who want to watch beyond that.
Why does this story matter?
- Every month, several asteroids fly past Earth, some closer than others. Most of them are nothing to lose sleep over.
- However, a simple deviation in the direction of these fast-moving objects could spell trouble for our planet. What do we do in such cases?
- That's where NASA's DART mission comes in. On Monday (Tuesday here), we will witness a new beginning in planetary defense.
DART's camera will cease operations after asteroid impact
NASA will air live coverage of moments before the impact on NASA TV, its website, and its social media pages, courtesy of the DART probe's Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO). However, when the probe crashes into the asteroid, the camera will stop working. But when that happens, how will we see the rest of the historic mission?
Virtual Telescope Project to live stream aftermath of DART's impact
When DART's camera stops, we can watch the aftermath of impact with the help of the Rome-based Virtual Telescope Project. The Project will use ground-based telescopes to stream the event. You can watch the event from 6:30 pm EDT on September 26 (4:00 am IST, September 27) on the Project's website. The Project has partnered with two South African observatories for a better view.
Increased brightness during and after impact may enhance streaming quality
The Didymos system (comprising Didymos and its orbiting moonlet Dimorphos) is just a point in the sky. Therefore, the streaming of DART's impact with ground-based telescopes may not be as detailed as we would like. However, if things work out according to plan, there should be increased brightness during and after the impact, which in turn will enhance our view.
LICIACube will capture high quality images of event
We will get a closer look at the event when images captured by the Italian Space Agency's Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube) are released. We may have to wait a day or so for this. If you miss the live broadcast of the event, don't worry. You can watch the same from Virtual Telescope Project's archives.