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DART impact moved an asteroid. The NASA chief is explaining something.

Lucy is in the middle of a lunar eclipse.


The asteroid crash that slammed a NASA probe into a space rock was more effective than scientists had thought.

DART hit a small asteroid called Dimorphos. Although NASA knows of no threats to Earth in the foreseeable future, the mission was intended to test a potential planetary defense technique. DART's goal was to shorten Dimorphos' trip around a larger asteroid by at least 73 seconds.

NASA officials announced during a news conference on Monday that the first calculations were in and DART was able to shorten Dimorphos' flight time by 32 minutes.

During the news conference, the head of NASA's planetary science division said "let's all just kind of take a moment to soak this in" For the first time in history, humanity has changed the path of a planet. It's the first time.

There are many ways to stop an asteroid.

a bright blob surrounded by rays, including one thick one reaching far to the right

A Hubble Space Telescope image taken on Oct. 8, 2022, shows Dimorphos' debris plume splitting in two. (Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble)

The DART, which cost $314 million and weighed about 800 pounds, was equipped with a single instrument, a camera called Didymos. Scientists had estimated that Dimorphos was about 160 meters wide and that it was home to a larger asteroid called Didymos.

After speeding in at 14,760 mph, DART crashed into Dimorphos at a distance of 7 million miles from Earth. That alone was the mission's first success, but the evening also brought early signs that the mission would perform better than expected.

The moonlet and Didymos appeared as a single dot in a field of stars as DART beamed photos back to Earth. The images showed aglomeration of rocks, followed by a field of rocks, gravel, and dust.

Congratulations to the team at @NASA for successfully altering the orbit of an asteroid. The #DARTMission marks the first-time humans have changed the motion of a celestial body in space, demonstrating technology that could one day be used to protect Earth. 11, 2022

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Tom Statler was confident that the mission had moved Dimorphos more than it was intended to.

When I saw Dimorphos come into view, there wasn't a single crater on it and there were a lot of loose rocks. He said during the news conference that it was not.

Although scientists are still analyzing the results, the orbital change may have been strengthened by the amount of debris that the impact sent shooting into space

The aftermath

The mission's main finding so far is the change in Dimorphos' trajectory, but new images of the impact's aftermath were unveiled at the press conference.

The Italian cubesat that hitched a ride to Didymos with DART then took a picture of the impact site was unveiled by Statler. The new image was processed to make it look better and show more of the debris.

He said that every little wiggle in those streamers, every little blob, every little particle, is a clue to something. Something happens on the surface of an asteroid when an object impacts it.

The Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of Dimorphos on Saturday. The sun has partially collapsed on one side of a cone of debris in a photo.

There is a long tail of debris in the Hubble view. The new image shows that the tail has split into two and scientists are still trying to figure out what caused it.

There's a lot of ejecta in the tail. "It's constantly evolving."

two bright blobs surrounded by wiggly bright rays

An image of debris from the DART impact captured by the LICIACube cubesat. DART mission personnel enhanced the image by increasing the contrast within each box to highlight details of the debris. (Image credit: ASI/NASA)

The debris from DART's impact on Dimorphos will be watched by telescopes on the ground and in space. The DART team is gathering more data on the moonlet.

There is an uncertainty window of two minutes on either side of the 32-minute change. Statler noted that scientists are looking for a possible wobble in the impact's path.

The observations will continue into next year. The European Space Agency will launch a follow-up spaceship called Hera that will explore Didymos and Dimorphos in more detail than DART could.

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