NASA's DART asteroid redirection spacecraft has taken its first photos

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has returned its first set of images from its DRACO camera, showing M38 and more.

@AdamHuntTT
Published Wed, Dec 29 2021 3:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jan 20 2022 1:06 AM CST

Two weeks after launch, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft has returned its first images from space.

NASA's DART asteroid redirection spacecraft has taken its first photos 01 | TweakTown.com
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Components of the DART spacecraft's telescopic instrument are sensitive to movements as small as five-millionths of a meter. The violent vibrations experienced during launch and extreme reduction in temperature to minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit) could easily cause severe disruptions to the instrument.

Now, after opening its circular door covering the DRACO (short for Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation) telescopic camera's aperture on December 7th, the DART spacecraft has returned the images it took to Earth. They were taken about two million miles from Earth, showing about a dozen stars in the otherwise empty backdrop of space.

NASA's DART asteroid redirection spacecraft has taken its first photos 03 | TweakTown.comNASA's DART asteroid redirection spacecraft has taken its first photos 02 | TweakTown.com

Using the stars in the first image, the DART navigation team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California determined the precise orientation of the DRACO camera relative to the spacecraft, enabling them to orient the spacecraft to change what DRACO can see. That allowed them to capture the second image, which features Messier 38 (M38), the Starfish Cluster, on December 10th.

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NEWS SOURCE:nasa.gov

Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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