The moment of impact of asteroid DART captured by Italian satellite

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History was made on Monday night when NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft successfully crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos.

DART’s camera has shared impressive images of the asteroid’s surface before it crashed.

Now, new images taken by its companion, a cuboidal satellite called LICIACube, reveal what the impact looks like from a different perspective.

Much of the material emerging from the surface of Dimorphos can be seen in the background following the impact of DART.

The Italian Light Cube for Asteroid Photography, provided by the Italian Space Agency, is about the size of a briefcase. It deployed from the DART spacecraft on September 11 and moved behind it to record the event from a safe distance of about 34 miles (55 km).

Three minutes after impact, CubeSat was flown by Dimorphos – orbiting a larger asteroid, Didymos – to capture images and video.

The series of images showcase the bright matter released from the surface of the Dimorphos after the collision. Didymos is ahead.

The collision caused the entire asteroid system to light up as it caught light from the sun.

“These are images taken by @LICIACube of the world’s first planetary protection mission. This is exactly where #NASA #DartMission ends. An incredible emotion, the beginning of new discoveries”, reader tweets from Argotec Spacean Italian company that developed CubeSat for the Italian Space Agency.

The surface of the egg-shaped asteroid, covered with rocks, looks similar to Bennu and Ryugu, two other asteroids visited by spacecraft in recent years. Scientists suspect that Dimorphos is a wreckage asteroid made up of loosely bound rocks.

The mission team is eager to learn more about the impact crater left by DART, which they estimate is about 33 to 65 feet (10 to 20 meters) in size. There may even be debris from the spacecraft in the crater.

The intended impact, which occurred about 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth, was humanity’s first attempt to deflect an asteroid.

INTERACT: A spaceship’s journey to test the defenses of planet Earth

Neither Dimorphos nor Didymospose pose a threat to Earth. But analyzing the extent to which the DART spacecraft can alter the motions of Dimorphos could inform Earth defense techniques if a space rock is about to collide.

While observations from ground-based telescopes will take about two months to determine if DART is successful in shrinking Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos, observatories, including Virtual Telescope Project in Rome, shared their views on the collision event.

Astronomers at the Les Makes observatory on the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean also shared a series of images showing the asteroid brightening up on impact, as well as a cloud of material escaping from the surface. its face afterwards. According to the European Space Agency, the cloud drifted eastward and dissipated slowly.

Les Makes is a joint station of the Office of Planetary Defense and ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Center.

One Observation video shared by the observatory Condenses about 30 minutes of footage in just a few seconds.

“Something like this has never been done before, and we are not entirely sure what will happen. It was an emotional moment for us when the footage came out,” Marco Micheli, astronomer at ESA’s Center for the Coordination of Near-Earth Objects, said in a statement.

As astronomers around the world begin to study their observations of the asteroid system after the collision, ESA’s Hera mission is preparing for future visits to Didymos and Dimorphos.

Hera will serve as a follow-up mission, launching in 2024.

Ian Carnelli, Director of Hera Mission, said: “The results from DART will help us prepare for Hera’s visit to the Didymos binary to see the consequences of this impact over the next few years,” said Ian Carnelli. , Hera Mission Manager, said. “Hera will help us understand what happened to Dimorphos, the first celestial body to be moved by humans in a measurable way.”

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