Nasa releases images of historic asteroid collision


Two of the world’s most advanced telescopes captured how NASA’s spacecraft rammed an asteroid earlier this week. The images are expected to provide crucial knowledge about how the celestial body was affected.

For the first time, the James Webb and Hubble telescopes have been used to simultaneously observe a celestial body.

The unique experiment with the Dart craft (Double asteroid redirection test) reached its climax on September 26. The small probe crashed into the harmless asteroid Dimorphos over a million miles from Earth in an attempt to alter the space rock’s trajectory.

The purpose of the test is to be able to protect humanity in the future from asteroids that have ended up on a collision course with Earth. Nasa does not yet know whether the impact affected the direction of the asteroid.

The partially infrared images from Webb and Hubble show the sequence of events as red and blue lights.

Webb and Hubble took pictures

Together, the telescopes will be able to give the researchers knowledge about the asteroid’s surface and how much material was released during the collision – and how quickly. You will also be able to see if it is about large pieces or more fine-grained dust.

“The combined information will help scientists understand what effect the kinetic force has on an asteroid’s orbit,” writes the European Space Agency ESA in a press release.

Read more: Should we take the aliens into space with us?

Webb and Hubble took images both before and after the collision and will continue to observe developments.

Nasa’s Dart project will be followed up by ESA’s Hera starting in October 2024. The idea is that the Hera craft will make a detailed investigation of how the collision affected Dimorphos. Both ventures involve the same groups of scientists and astronomers.

Facts: Darts

The Nasa experiment is the first of its kind and could be decisive for how we act the day an asteroid ends up on a collision course with Earth.

The test has a budget of 330 million US dollars, around SEK 3.7 billion.

The Dart spacecraft was launched on November 24 last year.

The target, over a million miles from Earth, was the asteroid moon Dimorphos with a diameter of 160 meters.

Source: Nasa


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