Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Dinkinesh Binary Asteroid System Flyby | NASA Lucy Mission

Dinkinesh Binary Asteroid System Flyby | NASA Lucy Mission

On November 1, 2023, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft flew by the main-belt asteroid Dinkinesh. Now, the mission has released pictures from Lucy’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager taken over a roughly three-hour period, providing the best views of the asteroid to date. During the flyby, Lucy discovered that Dinkinesh has a small moon. The mission team named it “Selam,” a greeting in the Amharic language meaning “peace.” Lucy is the first mission designed to visit the Jupiter Trojans, two swarms of asteroids trapped in Jupiter’s orbit that may be “fossils” from the era of planet formation.

“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. 

NASA's Lucy Mission:

Video Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Dan Gallagher: Producer/Narrator

Harold Levison: Scientist

John Spencer: Scientist

Brian May: Image Processing

Claudia Manzoni: Image Processing

Bill Steigerwald: Science Writer

Katherine Kretke: Public Affairs

Nancy Jones: Public Affairs

Aaron Lepsch: Technical Support

Duration: 54 seconds

Release Date: May 29, 2024

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