Home / News / World /  DART, you rocked: First pics of asteroid strike released from Webb, Hubble telescopes

The James Webb and Hubble telescopes on Thursday revealed the first images of the Dart Mission, in which a spacecraft deliberately crashed into an asteroid. The incident also marked the first time where the two most powerful space telescopes have observed the same celestial object.

The historic test on space rock Dimorphos tests the Earth's ability to defend itself against a potential future life-threatening asteroid.

Astronomers rejoiced as NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor slammed into its pyramid-sized target 11 million kilometres (6.8 million miles) from Earth on Monday night.

Later NASA tweeted, DART, you rocked out there. ICYMI, Webb and NASAHubble both captured the effects of DARTMission colliding with an asteroid as a test of planetary defense. This is the first time both telescopes observed the same target at the same time.

Images taken by Earth-bound telescopes showed a vast cloud of dust expanding out of Dimorphos -- and its big brother Didymos which it orbits -- after the spacecraft hit.

An image taken by James Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) four hours after impact shows "plumes of material appearing as wisps streaming away from the centre of where the impact took place", according to a joint statement from the European Space Agency, James Webb and Hubble.

James Webb's images were shown in red because the telescope operates primarily in the infrared spectrum, which allows it to peer further into the universe than ever before.

The images from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 were blue because it shows the impact on visible light.

Hubble images from 22 minutes, five hours and eight hours after impact show the expanding spray of matter from where DART hit on the asteroid's left.

The true measure of DART's success will be exactly how much it diverted the asteroid's trajectory, so the world can start preparing to defend itself against bigger asteroids that could head our way in the future.

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