A spacecraft designed to smash into an asteroid 11 million miles from Earth has returned its first image from outer space.
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) You’re currently hurtling through space on an Armageddon-style mission.
Its goal is to experiment with technology that can defend Earth from potentially destructive asteroids in the future.
The spacecraft opened its «eyes» two weeks after liftoff from a base in California in November, and we can now get a glimpse of its flight.
The slightly grainy shot was taken about two million miles from Earth, and was achieved using the onboard DRACO telescopic camera.
Scientists managed to form about a dozen stars, near the place of intersection of the constellations Perseus, Aries and Taurus.
But DART isn’t due to reach its final destination until September 2022, so we can expect more images to arrive during its long journey.
If the mission proves successful, it could pave the way for a new planetary defense system that can transform incoming space rocks before impact.
This plot mirrors the plot of the Hollywood blockbuster «Armageddon,» in which NASA ferries a spacecraft to an asteroid to prevent it from colliding with Earth.
DART flies toward the near-Earth binary asteroid Didymos, which is about 740 meters (2,427 feet) wide and lies between the orbits of Earth and Mars.
But this is not strictly the focus of the mission.
Instead, NASA’s bold battering ram will set its sights on a smaller asteroid — or small moon — that orbits Didymos closely.
DART will collide with space rocks at 15,000 miles per hour in an attempt to change its orbital path around its host.
After DART collides with its target, NASA and ESA telescopes will flock to Earth to check if the system has worked.
A small cube that is launched along with the mission will collect data before, during and after the impact.
Space experts have already identified at least 26,000 so-called «Near-Earth Objects».
An estimated 4,700 meet NASA’s classification as «Potentially Hazardous Objects».
This article originally appeared the sun It is reproduced here with permission.