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The asteroid Demorphos, which was hit by a NASA space probe last week, is now being tracked with thousands of miles of debris from the impact. Astronomers captured the scene millions of miles away with a telescope in Chile.
The image shows an expanding comet-like tail, more than 10,000 km long, made up of dust and other material. The photo was taken two days after the collision.
Scientists expect the tail to become longer and more spread out, eventually becoming too thin to be detected. “At this point, it’s going to be like other space dust floating around in the solar system,” Matthew Knight of the US Naval Research Laboratory, who carried out the observation with the telescope, told Reuters news agency.
The DART space probe, an asteroid 160 meters wide, collided with a speed of 20,000 kilometers per hour. The combined experiment cost $325 million.
collision it was a test NASA is investigating whether such a maneuver could alter the course of an asteroid threatening to strike Earth. Dimorphos have never posed a threat to Earth.
How much the space rock’s trajectory changed after the collision remains to be seen in the near future.
NASA was very pleased with the mission and also with the images of the impact:
NASA hits a space rock with a ‘refrigerator-sized’ probe
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