NASA’s DART asteroid-smashing mission spots Jupiter and moons

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NASA’s asteroid-smashing DART mission captured a photo of Jupiter and its four largest moons to test the autonomous navigation system that will lead the spacecraft to collide with an asteroid next week. 

The image, which NASA released on Tuesday (Sept. 20), was actually taken over the summer, when DART was some 16 million miles (26 million kilometers) from Earth and cruising toward its target, the binary asteroid system of Didymos and Dimorphos. DART operators used Jupiter and its four Galilean moons to validate how objects that are close together appear to the DRACO camera, which is DART’s sole instrument and the heart of DART’s Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation (SMART Nav) system. 

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