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NASA Telescope Captures Epic Collision Between DART Probe and Asteroid Dimorphos

Video released by the ATLAS project shows the explosive impact 7 million miles from Earth.

a gray, craggly asteroid against the dark of space
Our first up-close look at Dimorphos, captured by the DART probe's DRACO camera.
NASA/JHUAPL

When NASA deliberately crashed its DART spacecraft into an asteroid Monday, the daring but doomed probe was sending back incredible images. But on impact, the screen faded to black. We couldn't see just how big of a dent that DART made.

Fortunately, many telescopes around the world were tracking the asteroid pair known as Didymos and Dimorphos. The ATLAS project, which takes advantage of telescopes across the world, grabbed a great video of the moment of impact, which occurred about 7 million miles from Earth.

You can see it below:

ATLAS, or the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System, is a collaboration between NASA and the University of Hawaii. It is designed to detect rogue space rocks, including those that might be a threat to Earth, scanning the skies several times each night.

The ATLAS telescopes in Hawaii were focused on Didymos and Dimorphos during DART's collision on Monday. The probe was traveling at over 14,000 miles per hour when it hit the smaller of the two: Dimorphos, an asteroid that's the size of Rome's Colosseum and that orbits Didymos. 

The time of impact was 4:14 p.m. PT. The moment shows a brightening and a plume of light erupting around the crash site as DART ends with a bang. 

It was a bang heard 'round the world. Not literally, of course. There was no sound -- but plenty of viewers watched on NASA's livestream as the probe's cameras delivered its death dive second by second. The DART mission is a test to see if we can knock space rocks off course, should they ever be headed our way. 

We'll have to wait for a few more telescope images -- and a 2024 mission -- to find out exactly how much impact DART had.