NASA’s DART Snaps Vega While Journeying to an Asteroid

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Image of the bright star Vega with six spike-like points surrounding its edge

Featured Image: 2022-06-17

STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT

As NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission continues its flight to the binary asteroid system Didymos to perform the first-ever kinetic impact deflection test in September 2022, it has captured images to ensure its high-resolution camera DRACO onboard is optimally calibrated and able to make accurate measurements when the spacecraft finally sets its sights on its asteroid target. 

On May 27, 2022, DRACO captured this image of Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky and one of the solar system’s closest neighbors at just 25 light-years away. The image was a test of how light scatters off the instrument's various parts. The six spikes around Vega in this image are a perfect example: They're a result of light bouncing off of the structure that holds DRACO’s second mirror in place. 

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