The tiny LICIACube micro-satellite (in the lower right corner) will observe DART smashi into asteroid Dimorphos.

NASA is going to launch a spacecraft on an asteroid. This little witness is going to show us what’s going on.

When NASA’s DART spacecraft crashes into asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, it will have a silent witness: an Italian cubesat called LICIACube will observe the groundbreaking experiment in real time for keen scientists on Earth.

LICIACubeor the Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids, is a 31-pound (14-kilogram) micro-satellite that hitched a ride on DART (the double asteroid redirect test) to the Didymos-Dimorphos binary asteroid system. DART deployed the cubesat on Sunday (September 11) at 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT) to give LICIACube 15 days to take a safe position to observe DART’s collision with Dimorphos. Impact is a first-of-its-kind experiment to alter the orbit of a space rock in a crucial test of a planetary defense concept that could one day save the lives of millions of people on Earth.

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