NASA released new video footage of the DART collision with an asteroid from back in September. NASA says the video was created using still images from the leadup and aftermath of the collision with the asteroid Dimorphos. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART for short, was NASA’s attempt at testing a possible asteroid defense system that relies on changing the asteroid’s orbit slightly.
The test was deemed successful when it happened back in September and Hubble was watching the entire time. The video, which NASA shared at the start of March, starts 1.3 hours before the impact. From there, the images showcased in the video start showing the post-impact scene roughly two hours after the DART collision.
The video is showcased on Hubble’s website.
The result, of course, is a tail of debris jutting into space, flying away from Dimorphos faster than four miles per hour, making it fast enough to escape Dimorphos’ gravitational pull. From there, the asteroid continued along its new orbit, with NASA reporting a small change, though it was reportedly larger than they had originally expected from the DART collision.
The success of this mission is a huge boon, though, as it shows that redirecting asteroids and other cosmic bodies like them could be possible. This is exceptionally useful if we find ourselves staring down the orbit of a planet-killer asteroid, as we could hopefully get a spacecraft in the air and recreate the DART collision in a way to change its orbit.
It will be interesting to see how NASA uses the data gathered from DART to create additional defense methods for dealing with large asteroids. With so many unknown asteroids still lurking out there, having defensive options is important as we go forward. That’s especially true as space exploration continues to take off, since we may one day need to direct asteroids away from outposts on the Moon.
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