NASA's James Webb And Hubble Telescopes Capture Detailed Views Of Asteroid Strike

For the first time, James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope have simultaneously captured imagery from the same target in the cosmos.

NASA's James Webb And Hubble Telescopes Capture Detailed Views Of Asteroid Strike

DART mission was the world's first-ever in-space test for planetary defence.

Two of NASA's space telescopes - James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope - have captured views of the DART spacecraft intentionally smashing into an asteroid earlier this week. 

On Tuesday, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) deliberately crashed into asteroid Dimorphos some 9.6 million kilometres away from Earth, ploughing into the rock at 22,500 kilometres per hour. The experiment was the world's first-ever in-space test for planetary defence. It was also the first time that the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope simultaneously observed the same celestial target, as per the US space agency. 

Taking to Instagram, NASA stated that the images and videos taken from James Webb's near-infrared camera show a tight, compact core with "plumes of material appearing as wisps streaming away" from where the impact took place. 

Take a look below: 

The space agency also added that observing the Dart Mission impact with Webb was a "unique challenge". "Asteroid Dimorphos moved over at a speed over 3 times faster than the original speed limit Webb was designed to track! In the weeks leading up to the impact, teams carefully tested how they would accomplish the task," it added in the caption. 

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Hubble telescope, on the other hand, captured images taken 22 minutes, five hours and 8.2 hours after the impact, NASA said. Photos taken from Hubble's wide field camera 3 show the impact of the mission in visible light. 

"Hubble's images show the movement of ejecta from Dimorphos after impact. The ejecta appear as rays stretching out from the asteroid," the caption of the Instagram post read.

"Webb and Hubble show what we've always known to be true at NASA: We learn more when we work together," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, as per a press note

"For the first time, Webb and Hubble have simultaneously captured imagery from the same target in the cosmos: an asteroid that was impacted by a spacecraft after a seven-million-mile journey. All of humanity eagerly awaits the discoveries to come from Webb, Hubble, and our ground-based telescopes - about the DART mission and beyond," Mr Nelson added. 

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Now, according to NASA, observations from Webb and Hubble together will allow scientists to gain knowledge about the nature of the surface of Dimorphos, how much material was ejected by the collision, and how fast it was ejected. Combining this information, along with ground-based telescope observations, will help scientists to understand how effectively a kinetic impact can modify an asteroid's orbit, the space agency said in its press release. 

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