Astronomers watch DART mission’s asteroid Didymos eclipsing stars

Astronomers have captured the shadow of the space rock Didymos, target of NASA’s asteroid-smashing mission, as it passed in front of distant stars. The event, known as a stellar occultation could help scientists determine a precise shape and location for the binary asteroid.

Didymoswhich is about 2,560 feet (780 meters) wide, is orbited by the 525-foot (160 m) ‘moonlet’ Dimorphos, the space rock that NASA smalled its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DARTS) spacecraft into on Sept. 26. The crash marked the first test of a planetary defense technique humans could use if an asteroid threatened to collide with Earth and was meant to shorten Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos; it did so by a whopping 32 minutes.

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