Probe vs. Asteroid: Touching Pictures of the Impact

It was not obvious to the first, and it is not designed to detect moving objects. But in his case, it is possible that his instruments will help learn more about the chemical composition of the asteroid.

The impact of DART on an asteroid, seen by the James Webb Telescope. Infrared image, taken 4 hours after impact. Photo: NASA/ESA/STSci

As for the Hubble telescope, it was the unfortunate existence of Earth between Demorphos which is the moment of impact. But then he took pictures, showing the expanding debris cloud.

DART's after-effect on the asteroid, seen by Hubble
The aftermath of the DART impact on the asteroid, seen by the Hubble telescope. Ultraviolet images were taken 22 min, 5 h and 8.2 h, respectively, after the collision. Photo: NASA / European Space Agency

What is its effect on the orbit of the asteroid?

In theory, all this data on the dust plume or column should help learn more about the structure and composition of Dimorphos.

But in the end, it is the effect that this collision will have on the orbit of this “moon” around its asteroid – 11 hours and 55 minutes at the moment – that remains the mission’s raison d’être.

The change, no matter how small, could reveal how much force is needed to deflect an asteroid toward us—if such an operation proves necessary.

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