NASA asteroid crash leaves trail of debris more than 6,000 miles long
Astronomers captured images of the comet-like trail using a telescope located in Chile.
Astronomers using the NSF’s NOIRLab’s SOAR telescope in Chile captured the vast plume of dust and debris blasted from the surface of the asteroid Dimorphos by NASA’s DART spacecraft when it impacted on Sept. 26, 2022.
NASA's $325 million mission last week to intentionally crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to throw it off its course has created a more than 6,000-mile-long trail of debris across space. An image released Monday shows that after the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft slammed into the asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, dust and debris that was blown off the surface of the space rock from the impact had formed a comet-like tail.
An image of the vast plume of dust and debris was captured by astronomers Teddy Kareta from the Lowell Observatory and Matthew Night from the U.S. Naval Academy using the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope at the National Science Foundation-funded NOIRLab's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile just two days after the crash test. The plume has been pushed away by the sun's radiation, not unlike the tail of a comet. Astronomers estimated the tail was around 6,200 miles long. Prior to the impact, scientists estimated that Dimorphos was about 525 feet wide.