NASA’s successful asteroid impact test has created quite a mess, it seems. As The Associated Press reports, astronomers using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in Chile captured an image showing the DART collision with Dimorphos, measuring a trail of dust and debris 6,000 feet long. Not only was the ship responsible – but the pressure of the Sun’s rays moved the material as if it were a comet’s tail.
The footprint is only likely to be larger, according to the researchers. It should eventually reach a point where the dust stream is almost distinguishable from the particles normally floating around in the Solar System. NASA has not created headaches for future explorers and explorers. He chose Dimorphos (a moon of the asteroid Didymos) as an intermediate space, so that it could not be threatened by a deliberate crash of the Earth.
The capture was more than just a collection of scenic snapshots, of course. Scientists collected data using SOAR, the Astronomical Events Observatory Network, and other observatories to understand more about the collision itself and Dimorphos. They will determine the amount and speed of the material ejected from the asteroid, and whether or not it produced large pieces of debris or just fine dust. They will understand how space can change an asteroid’s orbit, and potentially improve Earth’s defenses against stray cosmic rocks.
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