Listen to Today's Edition
Nearly a year ago, a NASA spacecraft smashed into an asteroid seven million miles away from the Earth.
The spacecraft was able to successfully alter the asteroid Dimorphos’ trajectory and change its orbit around its larger partner – the 2,560-foot-wide Didymos – by 32 minutes.
The DART mission – or Double Asteroid Redirection Test – was part of the agency’s efforts to develop planetary defenses in case a giant space rock hurled itself toward Earth.
Astronomers recently used the Hubble Space Telescope to monitor the aftermath of the DART mission and noticed a field of at least 37 rocks flung thousands of miles into space.
The rocks ranged from three to 22 feet in diameter and most likely emerged from Dimorphos’ surface after the collision, the researchers noted.
“This tells us for the first time what happens when you hit an asteroid and see material coming out up to the largest sizes,” said co-author David Jewitt.
The debris does not seem to pose any threat to our planet and their movement is so slow that they resemble “roughly the walking speed of a giant tortoise,” according to NASA.
Still, Jewitt added that more observation will be able to show scientists the boulders’ precise trajectories, showing them in “which direction they (sic) launched from the surface,” he said.