Webb Looks at Dimorphos

This image from JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) shows Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet in the double-asteroid system of Didymos, about 4 hours after DART hit it. A tight, compact core and wispy plumes of material  streaming away are visible. The eight sharp points are Webb’s distinctive diffraction spikes, an artifact of the telescope’s structure.

Image Credits: NASA / ESA / CSA / Cristina Thomas (Northern Arizona University) / Ian Wong (NASA-GSFC) / Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

Dimorphos

These are the final images of the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos taken by the DRACO camera about the DART spacecraft as it crashed into Dimorphos. The moonlet is only about 170 m (560 ft) in diameter, making it one of the smallest astronomical objects that has been given a permanent name. Early telemetry suggests that DART hit within 17 m of dead center.

 

Video Credit: NASA / APL

Aiming DART

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is a NASA mission aimed at testing a method of planetary defense against near-Earth objects (NEOs). It’s the first attempt to change the speed and path of an asteroid. Using some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, the DART mission conducted observations to confirm earlier calculations of the orbit of Dimorphos—DART’s asteroid target—around its larger parent asteroid, Didymos, confirming where the asteroid is expected to be located at the time of impact.

The Lowell Discovery Telescope near Flagstaff, Arizona, captured this time lapse sequence (sped up 500 X) in which the asteroid Didymos moves across the night sky.

Image Credits: Lowell Observatory  /N. Moskovitz