Lucy found that it is actually a system of two asteroid systems, not just one, with a tiny satellite revolving around it that is 220 meters wide.
A ‘Mini Moon’ orbiting the asteroid Dinkinesh is discovered by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft.
The asteroid and its “mini moon” were photographed by the spacecraft from a distance of approximately 270 miles.
When NASA’s spacecraft Lucy was visiting the asteroid Dinkinesh, it made an astounding discovery. Lucy found during its initial flyby of the asteroid Dinkinesh that it is actually a system of two asteroid with a small satellite revolving around it that is 220 meters wide. The asteroid and its “mini moon” were photographed by the spacecraft from a distance of approximately 270 miles (434 km).
The spacecraft confirmed that Dinkinesh is just about half a mile (790 meters) across in data and pictures sent back to Earth. The moon that it is closely orbiting is only a tenth of a mile (220 meters) in size.
We anticipated that this main belt asteroid would be the smallest one we had ever seen up close. According to a news release, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center astronomer and Lucy project scientist Keith Noll stated, “The fact that it is two makes it even more exciting.”
About 300 million miles (480 million kilometers) from Earth, Dinkinesh and its newly discovered moon reside in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
“Dinkinesh really did live up to its name; this is marvellous,” said Han Levinson, the Southwest Research Institute’s principal investigator for Lucy. Dinkinesh translates to “you are marvelous” from Ethiopian Amharic.
“What a fantastic set of pictures.” “They show that the terminal tracking system performed as planned, even though the universe gave us a harder target than we anticipated,” said Tom Kennedy, a Littleton, Colorado-based Lockheed Martin guidance and navigation engineer.
The team’s task of downlinking the remaining encounter data from the spacecraft could take up to one week. This data will be used by the team to assess how the spacecraft behaved during the encounter and to get ready for the main belt asteroid Donaldjohanson, which will be examined up close in 2025.
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As a practice run for the larger, more enigmatic asteroids that are located close to Jupiter, NASA launched Lucy past Dinkinesh. The Trojans are a gang of eight asteroids that are the primary targets of the mission. After launching in 2021, the spacecraft is expected to arrive at the first of these so-called Trojan asteroids in 2027 and conduct a minimum of six years of exploration. There are currently eleven asteroids on the original list of seven targets.
According to Live Science, it is believed that the material that formed the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the outer solar system is also responsible for the formation of Trojan asteroids. Examining them may provide important hints regarding the solar system’s creation over 4 billion years ago.