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Asteroid hit by NASA in historic test leaves a trail extending 10,000 kms

A NASA spacecraft hit the asteroid Dimorphos last week in a crucial test of planetary defence.

October 05, 2022 / 02:18 PM IST
(Image credit: @NOIRLabAstro/Twitter)

(Image credit: @NOIRLabAstro/Twitter)

The after-effects of NASA's historic test involving colliding a spacecraft with an asteroid have been captured in a new photo from a telescope in Chile.

The photo shows a trail of debris that asteroid Dimorphos left after the  Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) last week. The trail stretches as far as 10,000 kilometres.

SOAR, the telescope that spotted the trail, is a collaborative project between Chile, Brazil and American institutions --  Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The trail will be studied in the coming weeks and months, the BBC reported.


NASA's DART spacecraft hits target asteroid in first planetary defense test


Astronomers are delighted about how lucid the photo is.

"It is amazing how clearly we were able to capture the structure and extent of the aftermath in the days following the impact," astronomer Teddy Karera told the BBC.

DART was a one-of-its kind test to check how prepared humanity is to deal with a potentially destructive celestial object.

On September 26, after 10 months in space, NASA's DART impactor struck asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, that orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos. Neither of the asteroid poses a threat to Earth.

But were an Earth-bound asteroid to be  discovered, DART has shown a viable technique for shielding the planet.

NASA's ground team will now study Dimorphos to confirm if its orbit was altered by the test.

The agency said its test represents "unprecedented success for planetary defense" and has "a real benefit" for all humanity.

“As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.
first published: Oct 5, 2022 02:14 pm