On November 1st, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft was successful. Completed the first asteroid flyby. The 56-foot-long spacecraft came within 330 miles of the asteroid Dinkinesh, also known as Dinky. This fairly small space rock is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
[Related: Meet Lucy: NASA’s new asteroid-hopping spacecraft.]
Dinkinesh is First of 10 asteroids to be visited by the spacecraft Over the next 10 years. This asteroid is about 10 to 100 times smaller than the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, which are the main targets of the Lucy mission. Dinkinesh is another name for the Lucy fossil from which this mission is named. In 1974, the skeleton of a 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor was discovered in Ethiopia.
Lucy approached Dinkinesh at approximately 10,000 miles per hour. This encounter was the first in-flight test of the spacecraft’s terminal tracking system.
“The Lucy operations team has confirmed that NASA’s Lucy spacecraft called home after encountering the small main-belt asteroid Dinkinesh.” NASA wrote in a blog post. “Based on the information received, the team determined that the spacecraft was in good health and ordered the spacecraft to begin downlinking the data collected during the encounter.”
It will take NASA Data download can take up to 1 week Regarding how Lucy performed during the first flight test during this encounter. NASA planned to take a series of images of her every 15 minutes with a high-resolution grayscale camera aboard Lucy. Dinkinesh is visible to Lucy’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI) as a single point of light. From early September. The team began using L’LORRI to assist with spacecraft navigation.
Lucy’s Thermal Infrared Instrument (L’TES) should also begin collecting data. Because L’TES was not designed to observe asteroids as small as Dinkinesh, the research team was interested in whether it could detect her half-mile-wide asteroid and measure its temperature during the encounter. I am.
Astronomers used data from this approach to Deepening our understanding of small asteroids near the Earth and whether they originated from larger main-belt asteroids.
NASA’s Lucy mission, launched in October 2021, is the first spacecraft set to explore the Trojan asteroid. These are a group of primitive space rocks that orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. They orbit in two swarms, one ahead of Jupiter and one behind. Lucy is expected to provide the first high-resolution images of what these space rocks look like.
There is There are approximately 7,000 asteroids in this belt. The largest is about 160 miles in diameter. Asteroids are similar to fossils and represent the remnants still left after the formation of giant planets such as Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter, and Saturn.
[Related: New image reveals a Jupiter-like world that may share its orbit with a ‘twin.’]
in 2024, Lucy heads back toward Earth for a second gravitational push that gives Earth the energy it needs to cross the solar system’s major asteroid belt. Asteroid 52246 Donald Johansson is expected to be observed in 2025. The asteroid is named after American paleoanthropologist Donald Johnson, one of the scientists who discovered Lucy’s fossils.
In 2030, Lucy returns to Earth in preparation for yet another collision and a subsequent rendezvous with the Patroclus-Menoetius binary asteroid pair in the Trojan asteroid group. The plan for this mission is Ends around 2033.