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NASA's Successful DART Mission Leaves Behind A Stunning Sight
By DANIEL FEININGER
After many months of preparation, the NASA Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) mission successfully crashed a spacecraft directly into the asteroid Dimorphos on September 26, 2022. This accomplishment will allow scientists to study the effects the impact had on the asteroid and to repeat the monumental feat on a grander scale should the need ever arise.
The most immediate after-effect of this successful mission is the debris trail that has developed into a tail that spans about 6,000 miles long, emanating from the asteroid moonlet. The impact from NASA's DART satellite has led to both an orbital change and a pressure alteration resulting in this brilliant tail that researchers have captured using the SOAR telescope in Chile.
This lengthy debris field will give NASA scientists a unique look into the asteroid's trajectory around the larger body, Didymos, in orbit. With the successful impact, the study will focus on the resulting orbital trajectory change, as the European Space Agency prepares to send a spacecraft in 2024 to the asteroid in what it describes as essentially a "crime scene investigation."