A reporter tried to get a sense of what would happen as a bunch of metal and electronics smashed into a pile of rubble left over from the birth of the Solar System. A scientist at the Applied Physics Lab was asked by a reporter to give them a sense of the fight between the two objects.
Nancy Chabot of APL said that the spacecraft would lose.
We got to experience it in real time, as the last image from DART's onboard camera cut out after only a small portion of it was transmitted to Earth.
The details of the crash landing were captured on cameras that were a bit further from the point of impact. We put together a collection of them so you can see what they have to offer.
LICIACube, a cubesat that was carried to space on board DART and separated a few weeks before impact, was the closest camera we had. One of the onboard cameras has a wide-field imager, and the other has a camera that can focus better. The Italian Space Agency doesn't know which camera produced which picture, but it released a number of them, including a distant view of the collision, close-ups taken shortly after, and an animation showing the sudden brightness after the collision.Advertisement
The collision did not produce enough light to be seen in these images. The debris from the asteroid reflected a lot more sunlight than it could on its own.
In a few cases, Earth-bound telescopes put the images online as they became available. The Didymos/Dimorphos system can be seen moving past background stars from Earth's perspective. The debris began to move off to one side of the asteroids.
There are two different pictures. The collision was only visible from the last of the telescopes in Hawaii, South America, and South Africa. The asteroid is moving against the stars in the picture.
ATLAS observations of the DART spacecraft impact at Didymos! pic.twitter.com/26IKwB9VSo
— ATLAS Project (@fallingstarIfA) September 27, 2022
Data from a telescope in South Africa shows the Didymos system moving in the opposite direction. Time stamps for each exposure in the animation make it clear that most of the action took place over a half hour.
Animation (sped up 500x) from one of @LCO_Global's 1 meter telescope at @SAAO South Africa showing effects of #DARTMission impact into Dimorphos (Still no threat to the Earth... Long straight streak is camera artifact) pic.twitter.com/StYWtLArgG
— Tim Lister (@astrosnapper) September 27, 2022
A video of the collision that took place in the same time period has been posted online.