More than a year later, we're still getting visuals from NASA's badass DART mission.
Super Smash Bros
An amateur astronomer has compiled new footage from NASA's groundbreaking asteroid-smashing mission to show just how incredible the collision really was.
As ScienceAlert reports, Barcelona-based citizen scientist Jacint Roger Perez processed the videos, which he posted on Twitter in GIF form, from newly-released raw images from the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that successfully deflected an asteroid called Dimorphos last September.
Alongside the NASA spaceship used to ram into Dimorphos, the Italian Space Agency sent a tiny cubesat called LICIAcube — and it was new footage from LICIAcube's two cameras that Perez used to compile his stunning views of what happened just before, during, and after the DART craft slammed into the asteroid.
NASA/ASI/j. Roger pic.twitter.com/2VNVgTgeqe
— landru79 (@landru79) November 3, 2023
The DART impact, ScienceAlert explains, ended up having a way larger, more visible, and longer-lasting effect than scientists were expecting.
As NASA reported last December, more than two million pounds of material ejected from the itty bitty Dimorphos asteroid, which was only 525 feet across and orbited its larger brother Didymos every 11 hours and 55 minutes.
— landru79 (@landru79) November 4, 2023
Dead on Impact
After the impact, a whopping 6,214-mile tail of debris trailed the asteroid for months on end — and although scientists were looking to only alter the orbit of the "moonlet" asteroid by about seven minutes, the impact of NASA's refrigeration-sized spacecraft was diminished by a whopping 33 minutes.
Interestingly enough, multiple teams of scientists hypothesized earlier this year that Dimorphos was displaced from its orbit so significantly not just because of the DART impact, but also because of the massive debris tail the collision caused.
As ScienceAlert reported back in March, the journal Nature published a series of articles about the Dimorphos debris, with three of them finding that the asteroid's long post-smashing tail seemed to increase its momentum more than anyone could have expected.
This mission's purpose wasn't just for the love of the game, but rather to see whether we could divert any killer asteroids screaming towards Earth to avert the kind of world-shattering disaster that made dinosaurs extinct.
Obviously, it was way more successful than scientists anticipated — and it made for some pretty stunning and badass imagery of a space-age wrecking rally, just as a bonus.
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