The Italian space agency has released its first images from the tiny Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube) spacecraft, NASA’s DART probe companion. It was this apparatus that filmed the collision with the asteroid Dimorph.

The moment of collision. Image: ASI/NASA

In the photo you can see a bright flash from the explosion, which also illuminated the asteroid Didim, whose satellite is Dimorph.

Scientists noted that the space probe deviated from the expected point of impact with the asteroid by only 17 meters, which is very good for an object that flew more than 11 million kilometers and struck at a speed of 6.6 kilometers per second.

A few minutes after the collision. Image: ASI/NASA

It’s fantastic to see the successful death of a DART mission when it crashes into the tiny asteroid Dimorph. It’s actually a bit surreal — I think this is only the second time I’ve seen astronomers so excited about the destruction of a spacecraft — and in this case, the destruction speaks of a very well done job.

Jonty Horner

professor, astronomer and astrobiologist from the University of South Queensland, Australia

A few minutes after the collision. Image: ASI/NASA

Now begins the observation period, in which many telescopes around the world will monitor the change in the trajectory of the Dimorph. If it really managed to be displaced by a blow, then this will mean that humanity will protect the Earth from the fall of large space objects.


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