TechHistoric moment: NASA's asteroid strike. A video to watch more than once

Historic moment: NASA's asteroid strike. A video to watch more than once

Asteroid Dimorphos. The small spots are boulders scattered by DART.
Asteroid Dimorphos. The small spots are boulders scattered by DART.
Images source: © Hubble

8:03 AM EST, November 11, 2023

The image editor Jacint Roger Perez made an animation available on the X platform, which he created by collating recently released photos of NASA's DART mission striking an asteroid. The frame-by-frame film shows the probe making contact with the 525-foot wide asteroid Dimorphos.

The unmanned DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission began in November 2021. During that period, NASA launched a probe into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The probe collided with the asteroid nearly a year later, on September 27, 2022. The mission served to confirm that humanity is prepared to counter threats in space by affecting the orbit of foreign objects. It was the first trial of this kind, which no other space agency had undertaken previously.

A year after this historic space event, NASA released photos of the DART probe's impact on the asteroid. Jacint Roger Perez then decided to skillfully organize and merge them in a way that formed them into a cohesive piece. His effort was successful, enabling us to observe in detail the impact on Dimorphos.

The DART mission: The probe's impact with an asteroid

In Perez's prepared video, a massive dust expulsion during the collision is visible. The scientists overseeing the DART mission admitted that they did not anticipate such quantities of displaced material. The impact liberated over 2.2 million pounds of rock and dust from a 525-foot wide object. Simultaneously, the collision caused a tail over 6200 miles long to form in space.

It should be mentioned that while Dimorphos' contact with the DART probe contributed to the deviation of its orbit, the resulting shortened orbital period of the asteroid by about 34 minutes was largely due to the loss of dust from the object.

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