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NASA Spacecraft Hits An Asteroid, Leaving A 10,000 km Trail In Its Wake

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An asteroid that NASA’s DART spacecraft purposefully struck last week left a comet-like trail of debris that stretched thousands of kilometers, according to a new image. The picture, according to reports, was taken by a telescope in Chile two days after the probe collided with the asteroid.

On September 27, NASA announced that the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft had successfully impacted an asteroid at a speed of 22,500 kph. Scientists made an attempt to look into the possibility of nudging any asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth in the future. They are still trying to determine whether they were successful and whether the crash changed the asteroid’s trajectory.

The image was captured by Chilean astronomers using the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope two days after the collision (SOAR). The comet-like trail reportedly stretches for more than 10,000 km, and before it completely dissipates, its length is predicted to increase.

Teddy Kareta, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory who was one of many involved in the observation, said, “It is amazing how clearly we were able to capture the structure and extent of the aftermath in the days following the impact.” The US Naval Research Laboratory’s Michael Knight stated that the debris trail would be watched over in the coming weeks and months.

The DART team’s analysis of their data and observations by our team and other observers around the world who shared in studying this exciting event now begins, he continued. By tracking changes in the orbit of the 160-meter asteroid Dimorphos, which was crashed by the DART probe into Didymos, the scientists will be able to determine whether the mission was successful. The two-rock or binary system will be precisely measured by the telescopes on Earth.

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