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NASA releases images of DART collision with asteroid

Images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, taken (left to right) 22 minutes, 5 hours, and 8.2 hours after NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) intentionally impacted Dimorphos, show expanding plumes of ejecta from the asteroid’s body. Photo by NASA.
Images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, taken (left to right) 22 minutes, 5 hours, and 8.2 hours after NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) intentionally impacted Dimorphos, show expanding plumes of ejecta from the asteroid’s body. Photo by NASA.

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- NASA released pictures on Thursday of the collision between its Double Asteroid Redirection Test and an asteroid seven million miles away.

The agency's Webb telescope was able to take one observation of impact before the collision took place and then several observations afterward.

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"I have nothing but tremendous admiration for the Webb Mission Operations folks that made this a reality," said principal investigator Cristina Thomas of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, in a statement. "We have been planning these observations for years, then in detail for weeks, and I'm tremendously happy this has come to fruition."

The Hubble telescope also released images of the system ahead of impact. Images from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 show the impact in visible light.

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According to the space agency astronomers estimate that the brightness of the system increased by three times after impact, and saw that brightness hold steady, even eight hours after impact.

DART, slammed into an asteroid Monday night in its first planetary defense test that could protect Earth from future threats.

"We are showing that planetary defense is a global endeavor, and it is very possible to save our planet," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told those assembled right after the successful defense test.

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NASA scientists told reporters they were about 17 meters off-center from their exact target because the asteroid was not completely lit from all sides, but otherwise everything went exactly according to plan.

The DART vehicle crashed into Dimorphos at 7:14 p.m. EDT, at a speed of about 15,000 mph, with the goal of altering the small asteroid's current path.

Whether DART's goal of moving Dimorphos off course was achieved will not be known for a couple of months.

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