Hubble captured movie of DART smashing into an asteroid
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured a series of photos of rapid changes to the asteroid Dimorphos when it was deliberately hit by a 545-kilogram spacecraft on 26 September 2022. The primary objective of the NASA mission, called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test), was to test our ability to alter the asteroid’s trajectory as it orbits its larger companion asteroid, Didymos. Though Dimorphos poses no threat to Earth, data from the mission could help inform researchers how to potentially change an asteroid’s path away from Earth, if ever necessary.
Hubble’s resulting time-lapse movie of the aftermath of the collision reveals surprising and remarkable changes as dust and chunks of debris were flung into space from the wounded asteroid. Smashing head-on into the asteroid at 21 000 kilometres per hour, the DART impactor blasted over 900 000 kilograms of dust off of the asteroid.