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The top space stories of the week!

A time-lapse view of the asteroid Dimorphos getting bigger as the DART spacecraft hit it.
A series of images captured by the DART spacecraft as it sped to impact the asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL)

NASA slams into an asteroid, astronomers analyze ancient mega-supernovas and an astronaut watches Hurricane Ian from space. These are some of this week's top stories. 

 NASA slams the DART into asteroid Dimorphos 

The collision of NASA's asteroid-smashing mission DART with the asteroid Dimorphos captured by the LICIACube mini-satellite. (Image credit: ASI/NASA)

NASA successfully struck asteroid Dimorphos, and witnessed the dramatic impact in real time from Earth. Engineers from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Maryland monitored their DART probe, short for Double Asteroid Rendezvous Test, as it approached the small asteroid on Monday (Sept. 26). This is NASA's first planetary defense test, which might inform future efforts to change the direction of a dangerous asteroid traveling towards our planet.  

Full story: NASA crashes DART spacecraft into asteroid in world's 1st planetary defense test

See also: Asteroid impact: Here's the last thing NASA's DART spacecraft saw before it crashed

Plus: Wow! Telescopes spot DART asteroid impact in deep space (videos)

NASA rolls Artemis I off the launchpad to protect it from Hurricane Ian 

NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket nears Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building on Sept. 27, 2022 after rolling off Launch Pad 39B to ride out Hurricane Ian. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

After days spent monitoring how Hurricane Ian escalated in the western Caribbean, NASA chose to roll Artemis I off its launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The moon rocket began its 4-mile journey on Monday night (Sept. 26) shortly before midnight, and reached the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) the following morning. It's unclear when Artemis I will return to the pad.

Full story: NASA rolls Artemis 1 moon rocket off the launch pad to shelter from Hurricane Ian

See also: As Hurricane Ian closes in, NASA weighs options for Artemis 1 moon rocket launch

Plus: Small fire breaks out at Artemis 1 moon rocket's hurricane shelter 

Astronaut views Hurricane Ian from space 

Expedition 68 NASA astronaut Bob Hines captured this view of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28, 2022. (Image credit: NASA)

Hurricane Ian battered southwest Florida this week, and astronauts caught the storm from space. Expedition 68 astronaut Bob Hines of NASA commented on the hurricane's size and wished for the public's safety in a tweet, and also shared footage of the storm from the International Space Station. 

Full story: Astronaut looks inside eye of Hurricane Ian from space as storm weakens over Florida (photos)

NASA and SpaceX astronaut mission gets delayed 

The official crew portrait for SpaceX's Crew-5 mission. From left are Anna Kikina, mission specialist; Josh Cassada, pilot; Nicole Mann, spacecraft commander; and Koichi Wakata, mission specialist. (Image credit: NASA/JSC)

Hurricane Ian prompted NASA and SpaceX to push the date of their Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. The new launch date is no earlier than Oct. 5. It will fly from Pad 39A at the space agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, whose southwest region is just beginning to process the damage from Ian's Category 4 landfall.

Full story: Hurricane Ian delays SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut launch again, to Oct. 5

See also: Hurricane Ian delays SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut launch to Oct. 4 

Astronomers find traces of ancient mega-supernovas 

An artist's depiction of a Population III star as they would appear just 100 million years after the Big Bang. (Image credit: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine)

Astronomers found the chemical traces of first-generation stars that died in epic explosions. Known as Population III stars, they are thought to have been born when the universe was only 100 million years old. By comparison, astronomers estimate the universe is 13.7 billion years old. 

Full story: Astronomers discover traces of 'super-supernovas' that destroyed earliest stars

Tonga volcanic eruption blasted enormous amounts of water vapor into the sky 

The underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano eruption on Jan. 15, 2022.  (Image credit: Tonga Geological Services)

The underwater volcano that erupted in January near Tonga injected vapor into the atmosphere on a massive scale, new research found. The 50 million tons of water blasted into the sky could trigger a stratospheric cycle of heating and cooling that could last for awhile.

Full story: 50 million tons of water vapor from Tonga's eruption could warm Earth for years

Two small nearby galaxies have a protective bubble  

Using spectroscopic images astronomers have mapped the Magnellic Corona that may prevent dwarf galaxies of the Milky Way from having their star-forming gas ripped away. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI))

Astronomers scanned archival data from two veteran space missions to study ultraviolet light from bright objects called quasars. The light revealed a fog, which proves two small nearby galaxies are protected against our galaxy by a hot shield. 

Full story: Hubble Space Telescope spots protective shield against greedy Milky Way 

SpaceX and NASA to see if they can service Hubble 

NASA and SpaceX are conducting a six-month feasibility study to assess whether Dragon missions could safely boost the orbit of, and perhaps also otherwise service, the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA/SpaceX)

On Thursday (Sept. 29), NASA and SpaceX officials announced a feasibility study that would investigate how a crewed vehicle might fly to the Hubble Space Telescope. The aim is to raise the observatory's orbit, which has dropped over time. Hubble launched into low-Earth orbit 32 years ago.

Full story: SpaceX, NASA look at launching Dragon to service Hubble Space Telescope 

China launches three rockets and delivers a dozen satellites into orbit 

A Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket carrying the Shiyan-14 and Shiyan-15 spacecraft lifts off from northern China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Sept. 24, 2022. (Image credit: CCTV)

China lofted three rockets within a 40-hour period, beginning on Saturday (Sept. 24). On that day, a Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket carried the Shiyan-14 and Shiyan-15 spacecraft into space. Shiyan means "experiment" in Chinese. Two other launches occurred on Monday (Sept. 26), when a Long March 2D rocket successfully lifted the Yaogan 36 remote-sensing satellite into orbit. Later, a Long March 6 rocket successfully delivered three more Shiyan satellites into space. 

Full story: China launches three more satellites after recent rocket doubleheader

Delta IV Heavy rocket launches last West Coast mission 

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off with the NROL-91 mission from Space Launch Complex-6 on Sept. 24 (Image credit: United Launch Alliance )

The Delta IV Heavy rocket from United Launch Alliance launched a satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on Sept. 24. This entity operates the U.S. fleet of spy satellites, and not much is known about the payload that Delta IV Heavy launched.

Full story: Powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket launches US spy satellite on final flight from California

See also: SpaceX launches another 52 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea

Plus: Firefly Aerospace aborts orbital test flight just after engine ignition  

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Doris Elin Urrutia
Contributing Writer

Doris is a science journalist and contributor. She received a B.A. in Sociology and Communications at Fordham University in New York City. Her first work was published in collaboration with London Mining Network, where her love of science writing was born. Her passion for astronomy started as a kid when she helped her sister build a model solar system in the Bronx. She got her first shot at astronomy writing as a editorial intern and continues to write about all things cosmic for the website. Doris has also written about microscopic plant life for Scientific American’s website and about whale calls for their print magazine. She has also written about ancient humans for Inverse, with stories ranging from how to recreate Pompeii’s cuisine to how to map the Polynesian expansion through genomics. She currently shares her home with two rabbits. Follow her on twitter at @salazar_elin.