NASA’s DART Crash: How to Watch Spacecraft Collide With Deep Space Asteroid

NASA’s DART spacecraft isn’t long for this world — and it’s going out with a bang.

After launching atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 on Nov. 24, 2021, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test probe has its sights firmly locked on the asteroid Didymos and its tiny companion rock, Dimorphos. On Sept. 26, DART will careen into Dimorphos at about 14,000 miles per hour. You can watch along live, and we’ve got all the details here. 

First, we should reiterate there’s no need to be alarmed. This asteroid pair poses no threat to Earth. The mission is designed as a test run for planetary defense with the intention of proving that a deep space collision can alter the orbit of a space rock. The carefully arranged death dive will destroy the DART and, if all goes to plan, alter the orbit of Dimorphos around its parent Didymos ever so slightly. 

In recent weeks, the team from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory have been assessing the asteroid pair from a distance, making sure we have a firm understanding of the asteroids’ orbits. Once DART has been destroyed, ground-based space telescopes will evaluate Didymos and Dimorphos to see just how much the orbit has changed. 

The $308 million spacecraft’s lone instrument is the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO) and it will be switched on for final dive, taking a photograph every second. Another tiny satellite, which snuck out of DART on the way to its target, will also be watching. 

About three minutes or so after the collision, the shoebox-size cube (known as the Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging Asteroids) will take high-res photos of the crash site and the damage done to the 525-foot asteroid. Another mission, scheduled to launch in 2024, will also rendezvous with Didymos sometime in 2026. 

But that’s for later, for now, here’s how you can see DART’s demise.

How to watch NASA’s DART coverage

NASA’s DART death is primetime viewing on Monday, happening just a few hours before the big Monday Night Football matchup between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. 

The spacecraft will collide with Dimorphos at 4:14 p.m. PT/7:14 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 26. Live coverage is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET via NASA TV. 

Our YouTube channel, CNET Highlights, will have two streams. The main livestream and a feed from the spacecraft’s DRACO camera. NASA notes that the feed will mostly be black once it switches on, but as the spacecraft approaches, the asteroid pair will come into view. It should be pretty thrilling.

Here’s how that time translates to different zones:

  • US: Sep. 26, 4:14 p.m. PT/7:14 p.m. ET
  • Brazil: Sep. 26 , 8:14 p.m. (Federal District)
  • UK: Sep. 26, 11:14 p.m.
  • South Africa: Sep. 27, 1:14 a.m.
  • Russia: Sep. 27, 2:14 a.m. (Moscow)
  • United Arab Emirates: Sep. 27, 3:14 a.m. 
  • India: Sep. 27, 4:44 a.m.
  • China: Sep. 27, 7:14 a.m.
  • Japan: Sep. 27, 8:14 a.m.
  • Australia: Sep. 27, 9:14 a.m. AEST

Sounds awesome. Where can I find out more about DART?

We’re glad you asked.

When DART launched back in November 2021, CNET’s Monisha Ravisetti put together this handy explainer about the mission and its goals. The team at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory also has a ton of resources about the mission, including handy interactives and the latest updates. 

Make sure to check back here for the livestream links closer to launch and check out CNET Science for more space stories. 

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