Thursday, November 02, 2023

Flyby of Dinkinesh Reveals Binary Asteroid System | NASA's Lucy Spacecraft

Flyby of Dinkinesh Reveals Binary Asteroid System NASA's Lucy Spacecraft

On Nov. 1, 2023, NASA's Lucy spacecraft flew by the small Main Belt asteroid Dinkinesh (previously known as 1999 VD57) and revealed that it is actually a binary asteroid system. 

“Dinkinesh really did live up to its name; this is marvelous,” said Hal Levison, referring to the meaning of Dinkinesh in the Amharic language, “marvelous.” Levison is principal investigator for Lucy from the Boulder, Colorado, branch of the San-Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute. “When Lucy was originally selected for flight, we planned to fly by seven asteroids. With the addition of Dinkinesh, two Trojan moons, and now this satellite, we’ve turned it up to 11.”

This asteroid flyby was added to Lucy’s list of targets in January 2023. The primary purpose of the Dinkinesh encounter was to test the spacecraft’s Terminal Tracking System. This will keep Lucy's instruments pointing at the asteroid as it flies by at 10,000 miles per hour. The Lucy mission’s record-breaking tour will explore at least ten small solar system bodies. 

The Lucy spacecraft will now head back towards Earth for its second gravity assist in December 2024. This assist will send the spacecraft to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

NASA's Lucy Mission:

Image Credit: NASA Goddard/SwRI/Johns Hopkins APL/NOAO

Acknowledgement: SciNews

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Release Date: Nov. 2, 2023

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