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NASA will slam a spacecraft into an asteroid. This tiny witness will show us what happens.



When NASA’s DART spacecraft smashes into asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, it will have a silent witness: An Italian cubesat called LICIACube will watch the ground-breaking experiment in real time for eager scientists on Earth. 

LICIACube, or the Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids, is a 31-pound (14 kilograms) micro-satellite that has hitched a ride on DART (the Double Asteroid Redirection Test) to the Didymos-Dimorphos binary asteroid system. DART deployed the cubesat on Sunday (Sept. 11) at 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT) to give LICIACube 15 days to assume a safe position to observe DART’s collision with Dimorphos. The impact is a first-of-its kind experiment designed to alter the orbit of a space rock in a crucial test of a planetary defense concept that may one day save the lives of millions of people on Earth.





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