A new image shows that an asteroid which was deliberately struck by NASA’s DART spacecraft, last week, left a comet-like trail of debris stretching thousands of kilometres. According to reports, the image was taken two days after the asteroid had been crashed into by the probe and was captured by a telescope in Chile.
On September 27, NASA indicated that they had successfully crashed the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft into an asteroid at the speed of 22,500 kph. This was an attempt by scientists to examine the possibility of nudging any asteroids that threaten Earth in the future. They are still working to establish if they have succeeded in their endeavour and if the asteroid’s trajectory has been altered due to the crash.
The image was taken two days after the collision, by astronomers in Chile using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR). Reportedly, the comet-like trail goes on for more than 10,000 km and it is expected to get longer before it disperses completely.
“It is amazing how clearly we were able to capture the structure and extent of the aftermath in the days following the impact,” said astronomer Teddy Kareta, one of many involved in the observation from the Lowell Observatory.
According to Michael Knight, from the US Naval Research Laboratory, the trail of debris would be monitored in the upcoming weeks and months. He added, “Now begins the next phase of work for the DART team as they analyse their data and observations by our team and other observers around the world who shared in studying this exciting event.”
The scientists will determine whether the mission was successful by observing the changes to the orbit of the 160-metre asteroid that was crashed by the DART probe and was named, Dimorphos, around another asteroid Didymos. The telescopes on Earth will keep an exact measure of the two-rock or binary system.