Two weeks after launch, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft returned its first images from space.
SEE GALLERY – 3 PICTURES
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 the launch and extreme reduction of the temperature to minus 80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit) can easily cause severe disturbance of the instrument.
Now, after opening its circular door covering the aperture of the telescope camera on December 7, the DRACO (short for Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation), the DART spacecraft has returned the images it took to Earth. They were taken about two million miles from Earth and showed about a dozen stars in the otherwise empty background of space.
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, allowing them to orient the spacecraft to change what DRACO can do. see. It allowed them to capture the second image, which shows Messier 38 (M38), Starfish Cluster, on December 10th.