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Stunning New Pics Capture The Incredible Moment a Spacecraft Struck an Asteroid

A fresh and incredible first for humanity was accomplished yesterday, 11.2 million kilometers (6.8 million miles) from home.

In our first-ever attempt to reroute the course of a considerably massive cosmic object, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) ultimately collided with a moonlet, Dimorphos, circling an asteroid, Didymos, after years of planning. The approaching asteroid's photographs gave us a front-row ticket to the crash, but they also made us ponder what the event could have looked like to someone close.

Now we have an idea.

DART carries a cubesat from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) dubbed the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIAcube), which is outfitted with two optical cameras, LEIA and LUKE, to track the impact and Dimorphos' immediate repercussions. The cubesat was launched prior to impact and was able to record the entire amazing event.

The Didymos asteroid is the prominent luminous object in the photographs. The tiny, spider-like threads are dust plumes that the impact from Dimorphos has caused to erupt. Images should show the composition of the moonlet as well as how much of it was destroyed by the collision.

Based on these findings, scientists will use this information to construct future missions to reroute asteroids.

Planetary scientist Katarina Miljkovic of Curtin University in Australia declared, "Now the science can begin."

It was not simply for fun to crash a spaceship with an asteroid, after all. The project was created to test our potential to divert asteroids that are now headed toward Earth in the future. In the past, this has proven to be exceedingly dangerous to any life that may have been nearby.

The following stage is keeping an eye out for modifications in the affected body's mobility. Dimorphis was indeed chosen for this reason. The asteroid, which is about 160 meters (2,560 feet) across, dances erratically around Didymos, a 780-meter-wide object, once every 11.9 hours.

We could find it difficult to detect such a minute alteration in a single object whizzing around the Sun all by itself with ground-based telescopes. However, a trapped asteroid on an orbit with a well-known period should be simpler to investigate.

"From this one impact event, we can learn more about the mechanics of impacts into small bodies, momentum transfer, and the ability to use artificial impactors to nudge asteroids out of their orbits," saysMiljkovic.

"This hasn't been done before… We needed a large-scale experiment, to get a validation against the real data. This is to ensure that should Earth ever encounter a dangerous asteroid hurtling towards us, we would know what to do."

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