NASA to crash DART aircraft into an asteroid tonight in first ever Earth defence test - how to watch it live

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It has been 66 million years since the days of the dinosaurs were brought to an abrupt end due to a crashing asteroid - but now it seems NASA is practising to stop humanity from facing a similar fate.

A harmless asteroid out in the depths of space is the focal point of the first ever trial of an Earth defence test.

NASA is planning to smash its NASA DART aircraft into the rock at a speed of 14,000mph.

The trial, which has cost the government agency £301 million to construct, will take place on Monday and into Tuesday.

Here is everything you need to know about NASA’s latest experiment.

What aircraft is NASA using to smash into the asteroid?

The aircraft that will be used in the Earth defence test is called a DART, which stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test.

Experts have compared its size to that of a small vending machine.

It weighs approximately 570kg and consists of a single camera that is used to navigate, target and chronicle the asteroid.

The DART aircraft will face total destruction if it fulfils its goal.

What and where is the asteroid?

The asteroid is named Diamorphos and is located around seven million miles away from Earth’s atmosphere.

In size, the asteroid is roughly 525 feet / 160 metres across and orbits its twin asteroid Didymos.

NASA has confirmed that there is zero chance that the asteroid is any danger to Earth.

Why is NASA doing this?

The aim of the aircrafts impact is to push the asteroid into a tighter orbit to practise the defence of planet Earth from a similar situation.

Cameras and telescopes will monitor the crash, but it is expected to take months for experts to find out if it was successful.

How to watch the NASA asteroid hit live

NASA’s DART aircraft is scheduled to crash into the Dimorphos asteroid at 14,000 miles per hour at just past midnight in the UK - 12.14 am on Tuesday, 27 September..

NASA Television will broadcast coverage of the end of this mission beginning at 11 pm UK time.

If you wish to view a stream of photos from the spacecraft as it closes in on the asteroid, NASA’s media channel will begin releasing those at 10:30 pm.