On Monday [Sept. 26]at 4:13 p.m. (Arizona time), more than 7 million miles away, NASA’s DART mission, Double Asteroid Redirection Test, successfully slammed into the asteroid Dimorphos, making history as the first step toward a possible future planetary defense strategy (NAU Review, Sept. 28).
For asteroid scientists, their work is just beginning.
By design, the crash occurred when the asteroids were fairly close to Earth.
That allowed telescopes on Earth to get a good look. About 40 of them were pointed at Didymos and Dimorphos, according to NASA and the mission’s managers. So were the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes as was the camera on Lucy, another NASA spacecraft. The LICIACube, a spacecraft about the size of a shoe box built by the Italian Space Agency, trailed DART to take photographs of the impact and the plume of debris. Its trajectory was shifted to the side so that it did not also crash into the asteroid.
“There’s the rest of us that are really eagerly anticipating the impacts so that we can take our science and run with it,” said Cristina Thomas, a professor of astronomy and planetary science at Northern Arizona University and lead of the observations working group for the mission. “It’s going to be so great and such an exciting once-in-a-lifetime event that we are throwing everything that we have at it.”
Read the full New York Times, Sept. 26 article here!
“I saw the ground-based images in the minutes after impact, and they were absolutely phenomenal,” said Cristina Thomas, a professor of astronomy and planetary science at Northern Arizona University and the lead of the observations working group for the mission.Observations of the DART spacecraft colliding with Dimorphos, as captured by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System.
Read the full New York Times, Sept. 27 article here!
NAU News writes “Cristina Thomas, assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science and team lead on the DART mission, along with Jason Wilder, vice president for research, were at Mission control in Laurel, Maryland to witness the historic moment unfold.”
Watch Wilder’s video of the moments leading up to the impact below.