KEY POINTS

  • The DART spacecraft successfully collided with an asteroid Monday
  • First LICIACube images show the aftermath of the impact
  • Observatories on Earth also caught a glimpse of the event

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was a success with the spacecraft's epic collision with asteroid Dimorphos. Instruments watching the action have so far provided stunning views of the momentous event.

The DART mission successfully impacted asteroid Dimorphos on Monday for the world's first-ever planetary defense test to try to move an asteroid in space.

The spacecraft itself provided incredible views of the moment it crashed into Dimorphos. But another camera was was nearby to document the event: the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube).

In the images posted on Twitter, one can see the effect of the impact, with bright materials appearing to spew from the Dimorphos. The other asteroid in the system, Didymos, can be seen in the foreground of the images.

"Here are the first images taken by #LICIACube of #DARTmission impact on asteroid #Dimorphos," the official LICIACube Twitter account noted in the caption. "Now weeks and months of hard work are now starting for scientists and technicians involved in this mission, so stay tuned because we will have a lot to tell!"

LICIACube was provided by the Italian Space Agency and deployed from DART on Sept. 11, CNN reported. Argotec Space, the Italian company that developed the CubeSat for the Italian Space Agency, also shared the images, calling the end of the DART mission "an incredible emotion, the beginning of new discoveries."

But even here on Earth, all eyes were also in the sky for the DART mission. Incredible observation captured by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in Hawaii shows the asteroid brightening significantly during the impact and spewing materials shortly after.

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) also captured similarly incredible views using its Mookodi instrument, and so did the Virtual Telescope Project.

To be clear, neither Dimorphos nor Didymos posed a threat to Earth, and neither would the maneuver have placed it on a collision course with our planet. However, the impact's success can help scientists determine whether the collision was actually able to alter the asteroid's orbit, shedding light on a possible course of action should the threat of a space rock heading for Earth ever arise.

Illustration of NASA's DART spacecraft prior to impact at the Didymos binary asteroid system