Here's Visual Proof That Our Asteroid Slam Worked

DART's collision with Dimorphos asteroid confirmed by 6.2K-mile-long debris trail
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2022 11:36 AM CDT
This Trail Left by Humans Is 7M Miles Away
This image shows a plume of dust and debris blasted from the surface of the asteroid Dimorphos after NASA's DART spacecraft slammed into it on Sept. 26, captured by the US National Science Foundation's NOIRLab's SOAR Telescope in Chile.   (Teddy Kareta, Matthew Knight/NOIRLab via AP)

Astronomers know for certain that NASA's DART spacecraft slammed into a distant asteroid in a test of whether Earth-threatening space rocks might be diverted, because that asteroid is spewing a whole lot of rock and dust. Two days after the Sept. 26 Double Asteroid Redirection Test, a telescope in Chile captured an incredible photo showing what astronomers describe as a 6,200-mile-long line of debris trailing the asteroid Dimorphos, some 7 million miles away, per the BBC. "It looks kind of like a comet streaking across the sky," says CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher. "What's so extraordinary is that humans—people—actually created what you're seeing."

The 525-foot-wide asteroid was expected to spew some 2 million pounds of debris after the 15,000mph-strike by the half-ton spacecraft, which was "about the size of a vending machine," per Sky News. The image—captured by Matthew Knight of the US Naval Research Laboratory and Teddy Kareta of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope in Chile—at the very least confirms a messy impact. Astronomers say the debris trail will only get longer before dispersing to the point of becoming undetectable. They'll continue to watch the asteroid for signs that the impact nudged it into a narrower orbit around the larger asteroid Didymos, as was the goal. (More asteroid stories.)

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