Out of this world! Hawaii students get a chance to track NASA’s asteroid crash

"We don't crash satellites into asteroids every day."
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 6:49 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 30, 2022 at 7:10 PM HST
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui astronomer is involving two bright high school students to figure out how an asteroid’s trajectory was affected by a NASA spacecraft.

The University of Hawaii says the spacecraft that NASA intentionally crashed into an asteroid Monday afternoon was the size of a school bus.

University of Hawaii astronomer Dr. J. D. Armstrong is working with a group of high schoolers from Maui to track its aftermath from a telescope atop Haleakala.

“What’s really cool with these images is, you see the tail,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said asteroids do not typically have a tail – comets do. So, he says this finding is fascinating.

“We don’t crash satellites into asteroids every day and asteroids don’t hit each other every day. So yes, it’s pretty rare. It’s rare that something takes off the surface of an asteroid,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong is working with Maui High School Sophomores Wilson Chau and Holden Suzuki to also monitor the asteroid’s orbit.

“When I found out there was a project like that, that we could be a part of and we could learn about, I was super excited,” Suzuki said.

The team of astronomers say it’s important to learn these things in case an asteroid heads to Earth, they know how to change its path.

“With this task, I think it’s definitely a revolution to what science has gotten to,” said Chau.

For these 16-year-olds, they are hoping to use their knowledge and skills for a big impact on their community one day.