ATLAS sees DART impact Dimorphos. Image Credit: ATLAS.

VIDEO: Ground-Based Telescopes See DART Impact Asteroid Dimorphos

ATLAS, a Hawaiian-based system that warns of asteroid impacts, observed the moment DART impacted Dimorphos at a distance of 11 million kilometers from Earth, ejecting a massive amount of material from the asteroid's surface.


ATLAS, a Hawaiian-based system that warns of asteroid impacts, has provided the very first view from Earth of the spacecraft impacting the not-so-distant asteroid Diomorphos. According to ATLAS’s Twitter account, a sequence of images shows the Didymos system — in which Dimorphos revolves around the main Didymos object — brightens considerably just before impact 11 million kilometers from Earth. Following the impact, a large layer of ejected material shoots out, proving the mission was successful.

NASA funds ATLAS, a system developed by the University of Hawaii to monitor asteroid impacts. During each night, it continuously scans the sky for moving objects with four telescopes (two in Hawaii, and one in Chile and South Africa).


DART, NASA’s first demonstration of planetary defense technology, successfully impacted Dimorphos on Tuesday, ten months after it was launched, with the goal of changing its trajectory.


On September 27, at 0:14 UTC, mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland announced the successful impact. As the spacecraft approached the target, images were sent back until just before impact, when the signal was lost.

“DART represents a major accomplishment for planetary defense, but it is also a mission of unity that benefits humanity as a whole,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As NASA studies the cosmos and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this international collaboration turned science fiction into science fact, demonstrating one way to protect Earth.”

Deputy associate administrator for NASA Headquarters’ Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, said Planetary Defense was a global effort that affected everyone on Earth. “Now we know we can aim a spacecraft with the precision needed to impact even a small body in space. Just a small change in its speed is all we need to make a significant difference in the path an asteroid travels.”


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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