CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Images from two of NASA’s most powerful space telescopes have been released days after its DART spacecraft smashed into a small asteroid at 14,000 mph.
The James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope aimed their sensors at the double-asteroid system of Didymos roughly 7 million miles away on Monday. The vending machine-sized Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft intentionally smashed into an asteroid approximately the size of a 50-story building to determine if a probe could modify an asteroid’s orbit.
According to NASA, images from NASA’s newer Webb telescope captured the impact location before the collision took place and then took several photos over the next few hours.
The older Hubble telescope captured images of the double-asteroid system of Didymos before the impact, then again 15 minutes after DART hit the surface of Dimorphos, the smaller of the two asteroids.
According to NASA, Webb observed the impact area for over five hours and captured 10 images. Hubble captured 45 images in the time immediately before and following DART’s impact with Dimorphos.
“This is an unprecedented view of an unprecedented event,” Andy Rivkin, DART Investigation Team Lead of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, told NASA.
Images have also been released from the DART spacecraft moments before impact.
NASA released photos from a video stream of the final five-and-a-half minutes leading to the collision on Monday. Both Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos are visible in the distance before Dimorphos finally fills the field of view seconds before impact.
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